Microsoft is joining GM, Honda and other institutional investors for a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, the San Francisco-based autonomous start-up.
Their common goal, according to Reuters, is to accelerate the development and commercialization of self-driving vehicles.
After the markets opened, GM shares continued to go up, trading at $54.09 for a spike of 8.2%. At the same time, this latest investment pushes Cruise to the forefront of self-driving tech firms, matching Alphabet’s Waymo in terms of its valuation, at roughly $30 billion.
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By comparison, the likes of Argo AI, a self-driving startup backed by Ford and VW, is only valued at $7.25 billion.
Going forward, Cruise will utilize Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, for its self-driving cars. This platform has also been used for operations and services other than autonomous tech by the likes of VW and Toyota.
GM and Microsoft will also work together to accelerate the carmaker’s digitization initiatives, which includes artificial intelligence. They will also look to streamline operations across their digital supply chains, while speeding up the development of new mobility services, such as robotaxis and last-mile deliveries.
Later this year, GM should commence manufacturing for Cruise’s Origin pod that was unveiled in January 2020. The pod doesn’t come with a steering wheel or pedals and features two bench seats facing each other.
Cruise expects the Origin pod to have a life cycle of more than 1,000,000 miles (1,609,344 km), or six times what you can generally expect from an average passenger car.