How GM Cruise is using its DashRide acquisition to build a robo-taxi company

How GM Cruise is using its DashRide acquisition to build a robo-taxi company

How GM Cruise is using its DashRide acquisition to build a robo-taxi company

It began during their college days when Thomas Bachant and Nadav Ullman were trying to get safe rides around the University of Connecticut campus. There was a disconnect between the party-goers who needed rides and the designated, sober drivers.

So together they created a mobile app Sobrio, to make it easy to find someone who is going out but not drinking. When it started on their campus, they brought it to other universities. After graduation, he bought an RV and drove it from campus to campus to keep students connected to the ride platform.

Eventually he started getting calls from fleet managers who said they wanted what he had built to serve as a limo company for universities. Sobrio turns dashride And the team was then working with ground transport companies on their dispatching software, booking, billing and other functions.

Now the co-founders are working with one of the biggest companies in the self-driving space, General Motor’s Cruise Automation. Cruise raised $1.15 billion earlier this month, now valuing the GM- and Honda-backed company at $19 billion. Late last year, the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle company acquired DashRide and its seven-member engineering team.

This makes a lot of sense: Cruise is preparing a taxi service in San Francisco by the end of this year, As of February, 175 cruise cars had been registered for self-driving testing in California. The taxis will be fully autonomous Chevy Bolt cars — and several hundred will eventually be available for for-hire rides as part of the Cruise network.

That’s a lot to keep track of – charge levels, tools, miles driven, maintenance checks and more – which is where DashRide comes in.

The DashRide team with one of the Cruise autonomous vehicles.
Credit: Cruise

Through their fleet management software, the team is translating their experience monitoring and managing fleets of delivery, campus and non-medical emergency vehicles into a system where one day anyone in the driver’s seat will have a low battery alert. Not watching

Bachant compared robo-cars to human-driven vehicles in a recent phone call with Mashable: “Think of a human with a car. They’ll know when their car is low on fuel, or oil.” When to go change.” But now with Cruise the team is thinking about “how a fleet operates without drivers,” Ullman said.

The “dash” in the name of his acquired company alludes to the “Mission Control”-like dashboards that Cruise now uses to track his vehicles on a map and track key data points such as charge level, time on the road, and where he’s driving. The car is next due.

Behind the scenes of Cruise’s self-driving fleet.
Credit: Cruise Automation

Fleet management is nothing new — tracking trips and vehicles is important to trucking and delivery companies and has been for decades. Canadian company GeotabA connected vehicle and data company, tracks 1.6 million vehicles, including many as part of large commercial fleets such as PepsiCo and UPS.

Mike Branch, VP of data and analytics at Geotab, explained in a phone call last week how once a fleet plugs the company’s device into a van, taxi, garbage truck, or other vehicle, Geotab “can tell you Know when your battery is dying. Before it dies on your vehicle.”

A connected truck reports back on the health of its engine or other needs.
credit: Geotab

As fleets and long-distance truck routes gradually become robot-controlled, predictive maintenance and tracking data help manage an “unmanned” system that won’t have a driver to flag problems.

“You need to be able to tie these things together,” Branch, speaking from the perspective of an actual autonomous vehicle, said, “whether I’m healthy, what my tire pressure is, how many miles I’ve driven.” Fixed, what’s my engine health, am I at the limit?”

See also:

Elon Musk says Tesla robotaxis are coming — and soon

As Cruise’s Bachent put it, “We’ve already taken the human out of the driver’s seat, now we take it out of operation.” It’s all about autonomy.