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GM turns to California for self-driving talent, announces 1,100 new jobs through Cruise Automation

Last year, GM stepped into the autonomous driving scene by acquiring Cruise Automation, a startup with Tesla Autopilot engineering talent and founded by Twitch co-founder. It enabled GM to tap into the software talent in California to build its future self-driving technology.

Now GM announces that it plans to add 1,100 jobs in California through Cruise in order to expand its self-driving effort. The move is likely to make the hiring scene for autonomous driving even more competitive for companies than it already is…

California-based companies like Tesla, Google (Waymo), Apple, Nvidia, and many others, are now competing with Michigan-based legacy automakers who are investing in research centers in the Bay Area to tap into the pool of local talent.

For GM that means a new investment of $14 million for “a new research and development facility for Cruise Automation in San Francisco” and “more than 1,100 new jobs” over the next 5 years. They are getting an $8 million tax credit from the state of California for this expansion.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said about the announcement:

“Expanding our team at Cruise Automation and linking them with our global engineering talent is another important step in our work to redefine the future of personal mobility. Self-driving technology holds enormous benefits to society in the form of increased safety and access to transportation. Running our autonomous vehicle program as a start-up is giving us the speed we need to continue to stay at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market applications.”

Cruise is currently testing their self-driving technology on 50 Chevy Bolt EV prototypes. They unveiled the latest generation of those test prototypes just a few months ago:

Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, commented on the announcement:

“We are excited to significantly expand our footprint in California and continue on our rapid growth trajectory. As autonomous car technology matures, our company’s talent needs will continue to increase. Accessing the world-class talent pool that the San Francisco Bay Area offers is one of the many reasons we plan to grow our presence in the state.”

Tesla wasn’t impressed by GM’s ~$1 billion acquisition of Cruise, which it called ‘little more than demoware’, but they seem to be making progress recently. In February, they released an impressive real-world self-driving demo of their Bolt EV prototype.

Their fully self-driving technology is still quite a few years aways and for now, they are moving to commercialization with their semi-autonomous level 2 ‘Super Cruise’ system starting with the 2018 Cadillac CT6/

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