Cruise self-driving cars headed to Japan

Cruise will start testing prototypes on the streets of Japan later this year, the self-driving technology startup said Wednesday.

Cruise will test the prototypes in partnership with Honda, which is a shareholder alongside General Motors and as of this week Microsoft, too.

While Cruise’s current prototypes are all based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the plan is to eventually launch a self-driving taxi service using the Cruise Origin shuttle unveiled a year ago.

Cruise Origin driverless vehicle

Cruise Origin driverless vehicle

The Origin is slated to enter production in 2022 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant. In Japan, the service will be operated by a Honda-owned mobility company known as Honda Mobility Solution, though timing remains unclear.

“Cruise’s mission to provide safer, cleaner and more accessible transportation is not limited to the U.S.,” Dan Ammann, CEO of Cruise, said in a statement. “These are major changes that are needed almost everywhere in the world, and this is a small, but symbolic step with Honda on our global journey.”

Cruise is testing self-driving prototypes in a number of cities here in the U.S., and some of them are testing without a human behind the wheel. Cruise’s prototypes rank at Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, as the cars are limited in the areas in which they can operate on their own. The final goal is Level 5, where a self-driving car is able to operate at the same level as a human driver. While Level 5 might be a decade or more away, companies plan to start offering commercial services involving Level 4 self-driving cars much sooner.

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