GM CEO Mary Barra’s first ride in autonomous vehicle: ‘surreal’

Industry

General Motors CEO Mary Barra says her first ride in a completely driverless car was “nothing short of incredible.”

For GM President Mark Reuss, the experience was “mind-blowing.”

A video posted Thursday by Cruise, the self-driving vehicle company that’s majority-owned by GM, shows the executives trying out autonomous technology for the first time with no one in the front seat.

Cruise has been testing vehicles at nighttime in San Francisco without safety drivers since the middle of last year.

“For me to just be in one these first handful of rides, it’s like a highlight of my career,” Barra is seen telling Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s founder and interim CEO. “I always believed that we’d be doing it, but to actually be doing it, it’s just surreal.”

Barra rode with Vogt in “Tostada,” one of the Cruise’s Chevrolet Bolt EVs upfitted with lidar and other automated driving technology. Reuss and Craig Buchholz, GM’s vice president of communications, rode in another car, named “Disco.”

As the car pulls up, Barra peers in the front window to confirm that no one is inside and gets in the back with Vogt, who took over the company when she ousted Dan Ammann in December. She said the test ride made her think people will easily let go of any skepticism about the technology once they see it in action.

“We were in the vehicle for five minutes, and the trust is there,” she says. “I really think that the apprehension that some people think they have is going to dissipate extremely quickly when they get the experience.”

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