Cruise is a startup made up of only eight people. Apparently cutting the fat works, because they are now the first to produce a self-driving kit that is consumer ready.
The interesting gadget is only compatible for newer Audi’s, and only mapped for San Francisco. So if you happen to be wealthy and in that particular city, you’re in luck!
Sure, it is a limited release. But that is to be expected; the technology is very new, this is a very tiny company, and they will need to find a modicum of success before they have the funds to branch out into other cars/cities.
Still, this is a huge step i the industry. The kits will program cars to run along San Francisco roads on their own, navigating turns, reacting to stop lights, and avoiding obstacles. Just like the little Google car we saw last month, albeit with a lot more style.
What sets them ahead is that they are already available for preorders. Kits should start rolling out in 2015. That is several years ahead of Google’s projection of 2017 to 2020, and ages ahead of any other manufacturers who haven’t yet hit the workable prototype stage.
How much of a hands-free experience the Cruise will be isn’t quite what people might imagine. You can’t turn it on and close your eyes for a snooze. You still have to be a part of the driving process, watching those around you. It isn’t a magic car that can save you from a collision if a semi come careening your way and you aren’t paying attention.
But it reduces the effort, and allows you to relax your mind. That means a more pleasant ride, especially in traffic jams and long commutes where you might be feeling the stress more than usual.
If you happen to have an Audi, $10,000 and a place in San Francisco, and you want to preorder your very own Cruise self-driving kit for install, you can do so here.