Self-Driving Vehicle Tech Company GM Cruise Automation to Expand Workforce in Pasadena

Published : Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 5:33 AM

Photo courtesy of GM Cruise

Self-driving vehicle technology developer GM Cruise Automation is putting the building it recently leased in Pasadena to work with the announcement of new hires.

The company is recruiting 20 new employees for addition to its current staff of 30, according to Lute Maleki, senior distinguished engineer, GM Cruise Automation. The move is part of a larger GM plan to hire more people for its Cruise Automation division.

The company announced its new lease on a large 47,000 square-foot complex at 465 North Halstead Street in mid-February.

The Pasadena operation is primarily focused on the development of LIDAR sensors for the autonomous vehicle, said Maleki. Those sensors use light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances to help guide self-driving vehicles.

Driverless car tech company GM Cruise has signed an $11.4 million lease agreement to occupy a two-building, 47,000 square-foot complex at 465 North Halstead Street in Pasadena.

“What we’re doing in this particular location is all the work that’s required in order to productize this sensor and bring it to the autonomous car,” he explained.

In addition to research and development, the Pasadena team is doing testing and pre-production development, according to Maleki.

GM Cruise, he explained, is a stand-alone company in which GM owns an 80 percent stake. GM made the acquisition two years ago, but GM Cruise raised some $3 billion from the likes of Softbank and Honda to consolidate its stand-alone status.

The company’s product rollout is focused on San Francisco, where the bulk of its operations are headquartered. There is, currently, no plan for driverless cars in Pasadena.

“Ultimately, Southern California is going to be an area which is particularly suitable for the type of services that autonomous vehicle businesses wish to provide,” said Maleki. “And so, without a doubt, that’s going to come about fairly soon after it’s been implemented in two or three areas around the country.”

As might be expected, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President Paul Little was pleased.

“Well, it’s always exciting to have a new business moving in and especially one that’s on the cutting edge of automotive technology as well,” he told Pasadena Now. “And it’s very compatible with the educational program that goes on at ArtCenter, for example, in automotive design.”

Little observed that it’s probably not a coincidence that Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech call Pasadena home as well.

“The expertise of people who launch rockets to Mars is also probably very translatable to people who are trying to create vehicles that operate both more efficiently and, ultimately, on their own,” said Little. “So that kind of makes sense, as well.”

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