Today, Vogt is 30 and the CEO of Cruise Automation, the self-driving car outfit General Motors bought for about $600 million in March. The San Francisco startup is the lynchpin of GM’s bid to build a network of autonomous cars.
The Detroit giant got plenty of competition. Ford, Nissan, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and others are working on autonomy, too. They’ve all got the manufacturing capability and scale needed here, and most have set up research centers in Silicon Valley to build up their software skills.
Then there are the tech companies, who don’t have the factories but are sharper when it comes to code: China’s Baidu, Uber, Apple (maybe), and of course Google, whose 58 cars have driven nearly two million miles, and clock another 20,000 each week.
GM believes ridesharing may be the answer to a profitable future of self-driving cars, which is why it’s also invested heavily in the ridesharing startup Lyft this year. Says GM President Dan Ammann: “The traditional rideshare business is sort of interesting, and autonomous vehicles are kind of interesting. It’s when you put the two together that things get really interesting.”