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GM's Cruise Self-Driving Car Company Is Up To Something, But What?

Illustration for article titled GMs Cruise Self-Driving Car Company Is Up To Something, But What?
Image: Wikimedia Commons

GM’s Cruise self-driving car subsidiary is up to something. It completely wiped out its Instagram feed yesterday and replaced it with nine syncrhonized posts, each displaying a set of lat/long coordinates. Most of these locations correlate to something engineering related, but some of them are pure mysteries to me and everyone else I’ve asked about this.

Illustration for article titled GMs Cruise Self-Driving Car Company Is Up To Something, But What?
Screenshot: Cruise on Instagram

Each of these posts has verbiage that relates to “moving beyond the car” and an upcoming announcement on January 21st. That’s next Tuesday, in case you’re bad with dates. In the meantime, can we figure out exactly what they’re about to announce, or how it relates to Cruise? Let’s give it a shot.


I’ve already done the legwork here by plugging these coordinates into Google Maps, so let’s see where these posts indicate. We’ll go one by one, starting at the top left and reading it like a book.

1. An industrial district in Xinmi, Zhengzhou, Henan, China.

2. A nondescript building on Quarry Road in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK.


3. The Karl Benz Museum in Ladenburg, Germany


4. Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park, New Jersey


5. SFMTA (next door to Uber?) in San Francisco, California


6. Laboratori Guglielmo Marconi S.p.a. in Bologna, Italy


7. Engineering IV lab at UCLA in Los Angeles, California


8. Google’s Campus in Palo Alto, California


9. The Midtown Hilton hotel in Manhattan, New York


WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? I know I’m playing right into the company’s trap of cryptic advertising, but I do love a good mystery. Does anyone see a connection between these nine locations? I understand on a grand scheme basis how an Italian engineering firm, Siemens, UCLA, Google, Karl Benz, and Thomas Edison all connect, but the others have me a bit baffled. And what would it mean for Cruise to “move beyond the car”? Are they building autonomous motorcycles? God, I hope not.

Anybody got a lead?

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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You entered #1 wrong—it’s East, not West. It’s in China. Location of a supplier, maybe? Several of the others are potentially relevant collaborators or research labs.

#5 is next to the San Francisco MTA and also the Marconi Center hotel, which would neatly line up with #6, the Marconi Foundation. Also a block from Uber’s headquarters, for what that’s worth.

Methyr Tydfil’s claim to fame is the first successful test of the steam locomotive. And the comment says “don’t just stay on track, create a whole new one.”

Taken together, my completely uneducated guess is that they’re hinting at the use of radio/cellular signals to allow autonomous vehicles to talk to each other, and maybe to link up in autonomous “trains.”