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GM Acquires Autonomous-Driving Startup Cruise Automation

California tech company sold kit to make Audis drive themselves.

As it continues to push development of self-driving cars and technology, General Motors today announced it has acquired California-based startup Cruise Automation. GM says that Cruise will be an independent operating unit inside the company's new Autonomous Vehicle Development Team, and will be based in San Francisco.

Cruise Automation launched in 2013 and sold a $10,000 kit that allowed owners of certain Audi A4 and S4 sedans to retrofit self-driving functionality. According to the company, the RP-1 kit comprised a sensor pod mounted atop the car's roof, some control switches in the interior, and a processing computer mounted in the trunk. With the system installed and functioning on certain Californian highways, an Audi so equipped could then steer, brake, and accelerate automatically on the highway.

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

Though details of the acquisition are not public, Fortune reports that the deal was worth about $1 billion, between cash and stock options.

GM is already heavily invested in autonomous-car technology. The company has opened a testing ground for autonomous cars and plans to launch its Super Cruise self-driving technology by 2017.

At top, right to left: GM president Dan Ammann, Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt and Daniel Kan.