So far, the race to build a self-driving car has been dominated by major automakers, suppliers, and technology juggernaut Google. Yet one startup also hopes to get in on the action.
Cruise was started by Kyle Vogt, who was previously involved with video-sharing apps Justin.tv, Socialcam, and Twitch. According to TechCrunch, he's recruited a team of engineers and roboticists from MIT to work on autonomous vehicles. Or to take over the world, who knows.
The novelty of Cruise is that it plans to market hardware that can be retrofitted to existing cars. The setup consists of sensors that are mounted to the roof near the windshield, actuators to operate the controls, and a trunk-mounted computer that manages everything.
Drivers can merge onto a highway and simply hit a "Cruise" button on the dashboard to engage the system, which makes it sound a bit like the "autopilot" system Tesla says it will have on the market by 2016.
While the system can use the steering, brakes, and throttle to keep a car in its lane, Cruise still emphasizes that an alert driver needs to be behind the wheel in case of unforseen circumstances. Without more detailed information on Cruise's capabilities, it's hard to tell if it would be significantly better than some of the more sophisticated automatic cruise control and lane-keeping features already available.
Cruise is currently taking pre-orders for its first system, called RP-1, ahead of a launch next year. The asking price is $10,000, and the system only works with current-generation Audi A4 and S4 models, apparently.