Autonomous car company Cruise Automation has secured $1.15bn equity investment as it approaches the launch of its commercial ‘robotaxi’ service.

A subsidiary of General Motors Company (GM), the highly anticipated self-driving car service’s latest investment increases its valuation to $19 billion.

The San-Francisco firm is nearing the launch of its first product, which is slated for the end of the year. It plans to reveals a fully driverless car, without a steering wheel or pedals, allowing for rider to hail a car which will seat five passengers and no driver.

Though the final product is yet to be released to the public, test vehicles have been put autonomous tech under real-world conditions in San Francisco.

GM bought Cruise in 2016 for $1 billion to jump-start its self-driving efforts and be first-to-market, as competition increases from the likes Ford and Tesla, both of which have committed to fully-driverless tech.Investors in the latest round including its parent company GM as well as T. Rowe Price, Honda and SoftBank's Vision Fund.

The deal brings Cruise's valuation to $19 billion.“Developing and deploying self-driving vehicles at massive scale is the engineering challenge of our generation,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a statement.“Having deep resources to draw on as we pursue our mission is a critical competitive advantage.”