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Kyle Vogt holds the keys to GM’s self-driving ambitions

Vogt is No. 72 on the Recode 100.

Self-driving startup Cruise Automation has kept itself busy since General Motors bought it last year.

Under its CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt, the company has acquired its own laser sensor startup, developed an on-demand ride-hail app that is being used internally, begun testing in San Francisco (eyeing a 2019 launch) and announced that it is ready to manufacture cars that will eventually be able to drive completely autonomously.

With its acquisition of Cruise and now lidar startup Strobe, GM is one of the few companies that is getting closer to completely vertically integrating its self-driving program. More than that, Vogt said that the company is “quarters, not years” away from being able to deploy self-driving cars in limited areas without safety drivers.

If the company can pull it off, Cruise could gain a significant competitive advantage over some of its toughest competitors like Alphabet’s Waymo, given its close integration with GM’s manufacturing capabilities.

Cruise also aims to be the first self-driving company operating in New York City, arguably one of the toughest environments for an autonomous car to navigate.

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