Masayoshi Son, the outspoken head of the Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company Softbank forayed into the autonomous vehicles arena earlier today. Softbank invested an impressive $2.25 billion into Cruise, the driverless car unit of General Motors.
This is yet another investment by Softbank into companies that are in the race to perfect the first driverless vehicle, the other one being Uber. As Softbank continues to spend its staggering $100 billion vision fund through tech investments, it may be on the verge of claiming a dominant market share of the next big technological marvel.
With heavyweights like Waymo, the driverless cars division of Alphabet Inc., having the apparent upper hand in the industry, Softbank’s investment in Cruise could help bridge the gap and may even be the decisive edge in rolling out the first commercially available autonomous car. This investment gives Cruise an enormous stock, which in turn could translate into a turnaround for the General Motors subsidiary. General Motors president Dan Ammann adds, “Softbank, with its impressive portfolio of ride-hailing companies like Uber, Didi and Grab, brings an ecosystem and relationships with it.”
When it comes to commercialization, Cruise, like every other company, needs to be absolutely certain of its safety measures. This is especially important, considering the fact that an Uber self-driving car killed a pedestrian in March. For some, this casts a shadow on the notion of self-driving cars. However, industry honchos are confident that autonomous cars will drastically reduce the accidents caused by human errors. Several top auto makers already boast of outstanding safety features such as automatic lane correction, speed reduction and braking, all of which have an impressive track record of avoiding collisions.
Autonomous cars with advanced safety features can truly revolutionize daily commuting.