That’ll be a continuous and ongoing investment.” New hires, he says, are still mostly engineers, and will be “for the foreseeable future.”Still, it’s time to think about the next phase of the business, one that benefits from a different sort of leadership, and Ammann has played a central role in GM’s revival over the past decade.
Alex Davies covers autonomous vehicles and other transportation machines for WIRED.The revised timeline underlines a reality that many industry prognosticators have resisted. Creating a self-driving car that can move through a city safely, reliably, and efficiently is a punishing task. Nobody has managed it . Nobody knows how much time, money, and manpower they’ll need. And with a technology where mistakes can easily turn deadly , nobody wants to move ahead until they’re confident they can do it without risking their reputation and financial well-being. When Waymo launched its service last December to meet its own deadline, it kept human backups behind the wheel—an underwhelming result after a decade of work.
“Anytime that you’re working on something that’s never been done before, it’s not surprising if timelines move around,” Ammann says. “If we do it right from the outset, that’s what will allow us to scale it up rapidly.” At this point, that means delaying the outset to an unspecified time.Ammann took the Cruise CEO job at the end of last year, leaving his post as GM president to guide the outfit. (Cruise founder and former CEO Kyle Vogt is now the CTO.) Much of his work has been focused on stockpiling the cash he believes this effort will take. In the past year, Cruise has raised $7.25 billion , counting Softbank and Honda as major investors . It now has 1,500 employees—nearly 40 people for each of the 40 employees it had at the time of GM’s acquisition, in March 2016. It has built up a network of fast chargers around San Francisco to reenergize its cars’ batteries, and plans to build more. And while the secrecy surrounding this nascent industry makes it hard to know who’s leading the pack, those stats suggest that Cruise is one of the few players—along with Waymo, Argo, Uber, and a handful of others—positioned to deliver something as complex as a robo-taxi service.
Carnival Corporation, owner of the high-end cruise line best known among (and frequented by) the older generation of passengers who remember the brand from the hit '80s TV show The Love Boat , has outfitted the entire Caribbean Princess cruise ship with sensors, 4K touchscreens, and other connected devices to support a new interactive platform called PlayOcean.