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GM's self-propelled unit receives $ 2.25 billion from SoftBanks venture funds



General Motors has announced that its self-propelled unit will receive a $ 2.25 billion investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund, a major venture capital investment launched by the Japanese technology giant in 2016. Cruise Automation, which bought GM $ 1 billion in 2016 to begin its self-drive efforts, will receive $ 900 million if the transaction closes and $ 1.35 billion if GM is ready to deploy its autonomous cars for commercial use (the currently scheduled for 2019).

GM also announced it will invest a $ 1.1 billion investment in Cruise when the transaction is completed, bringing the total to $ 3.35 billion. Upon completion of all investments, the SoftBank Vision Fund will hold a 1

9.6 percent interest in Cruise.

While a number of different approaches to self-propelled technology are being tested, it is not yet clear which ones will be the most commercially viable or whether a mix of all of them will ultimately change our way. Will we call a self-driving car from a service like Uber or Lyft? Will we buy cars from automakers who can drive themselves? Will we allow these cars to be greeted by others if we do not use them? Will self-driving technology only be useful in public transport?

Perhaps because of this uncertainty one thing is clear: self-driving cars: whatever happens to them, it's likely none only company will go it alone. While GM and Cruise are working on their own commercial autonomous driving service, GM also has a self-driving partnership with Lyft, which began in early 2016 prior to the acquisition of Cruise. Lyft works with Ford (who spent $ 1 billion on its own obscure self-propelled startup) to incorporate the Ride Hailing service's app platform into the automaker's self-driving cars.

Lyft is also working on its own self-propelled technology stack, which will serve as the foundation for an open platform for automakers and other companies where Jaguar Land Rover, NuTonomy, Drive.ai and Waymo have already built the self-propelled company, which was spun out of Google.

Like Lyft, Waymo is also trying to build a self-propelled stack that other companies can work with to make autonomous cars. (A handful of startups, such as Aurora, led by the former boss of Google's self-driving program, are trying a similar business model.) Since then, there has been a partnership with Intel, which owns a self-propelled unit in Mobileye, Tesla's former partner who helped has to develop the first autopilot. Waymo is also working with Jaguar to build 20,000 self-propelled I-Pace SUVs and is working on a deal with Honda. Waymo has made a real start by negotiating a contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has now been largely redone, and the two sides are discussing the possibility of selling their self-driving minivans.

The most obvious exception to the partnership model that has created this dense network is Tesla. While Tesla developed autopilot with the help of Mobileye, the two split into disagreements over the cause of a fatal crash in 2016. Since then, Tesla has created a new version of autopilot in-house, and the company is still working to realize the CEO's vision Elon Musk Build cars that ride themselves so well that they can function as a common fleet – like a mix of "Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB," he said recently.

With regard to today's announcement, SoftBank also has a lot of it in hand, which – aside from the money – is probably one reason why GM and Cruise were interested. The technology company acquired a 20 percent stake in Uber late last year after Travis Kalanick left the company. It is also heavily invested in competing ride-hailing companies such as China's Didi Chuxing, Southeast Asia's Tomb, and India's Ola. SoftBank has a billionaire stake in Nvidia, a leading chipmaker that powers many of the autonomous cars tested today. And the German carmaker Daimler is a new (but relatively small) part of the $ 100 billion Vision Fund. (To add yet another crease, Daimler and BMW have just announced that they will merge their new mobility efforts into another spin-off company.)

How this new proximity to all of these companies that touches SoftBank influences the development of GM and Cruise , probably depends on real attempts to take off. Companies are currently testing self-propelled Chevrolet Bolts in San Francisco, California, and Phoenix, Arizona, and they are working on mass-producing a version of the car without a steering wheel or pedals. A recent plan to launch a small fleet of test cars in New York City has come to a halt after delays in the approval process.

For Cruise, the investment news is the latest, which has meant a rapid rise of five years for the company. It started out as a project that emerged from Y Combinator when the goal was to sell a $ 10,000 kit that would equip cars with limited DIY self-propelled technology. But as automakers began to rely on partnerships and acquisitions to keep pace with the advancement of the tech industry into the automotive space, Cruise swung to full autonomy.

"[W] e discovered that completely driverless technology represents a much larger business opportunity and has been working inconspicuously since then," said CEO Kyle Vogt The Verge at the time of the GM takeover in 2016. He had Law. Cruise today is estimated at $ 11.5 billion after today's investment.


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