GM to buy autonomous vehicle technology software start-up Cruise Automation

General Motors (GM) yesterday struck a deal to buy Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based start-up that specialises in autonomous vehicle technology.

GM president Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left)  

The Detroit-based car maker did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but media reports suggested that GM paid more than $1 billion.

GM intends to keep Cruise Automation as an independent company and its 40 employees would remain in San Francisco.

GM recently started dabbling in self-driving vehicle technology, and invested $500 million in Lyft, Inc, an automated on-demand rides company, which led to starting its own car-sharing service company called Maven.

''Cruise provides our company with a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry. We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team,'' Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said in a statement.

''GM's commitment to autonomous vehicles is inspiring, deliberate, and completely in line with our vision to make transportation safer and more accessible,'' said Kyle Vogt. ''We are excited to be partnering with GM and believe this is a ground-breaking and necessary step toward rapidly commercializing autonomous vehicle technology.''

Founded in 2013 by Kyle Vogt and Daniel Kan, Cruise Automation built the first highway autopilot system that installs on existing vehicles.

It has made an aftermarket ''kit'' called Cruise RP-1 that allows buyers to currently convert only the Audi A4 and S4 models into automated driving vehicles for highway driving. It has plans to soon expand the product line to other cars also.

Since its inception, the company has raised $18.8 million in three rounds from 30 investors including Spark Capital, Maven Ventures, Founder Collective, and Y Combinator.

GM plans to integrate Cruise Automation's technology into its vehicles during the manufacturing process.