In less than two years, Chevy Bolts will be picking up riders on lots of city streets in the United States – without drivers, the president of General Motors said Thursday.
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“If we continue on our current rate of change, we will be ready to deploy this technology in large scale in the most complex environments in 2019,” GM’s Dan Ammann told press and investors according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
GM also announced it plans to make the Bolts a key part of a fleet for a driverless taxi business it wants to start in 2019. The company said at the same presentation to automotive industry analysts and press that it plans to start the ride service in San Francisco, and that it will be able to undercut the prices of other ride services since it won’t have to pay drivers. Forbes reported GM also plans to try the driverless car service in New York.
General Motors finally showed its autonomous Bolt off this week in San Francisco, giving the first-ever semi-public look at a car that only the company’s engineers and staff at Cruise Automation, the company’s software unit, had seen up to now. GM bought Cruise Automation last year for more than a half billion dollars and has boosted its workforce 10-fold as it has made a major push in autonomous cars.
STATE RULES OF THE ROAD MAY SOON CHANGE
There was also government news today out of Sacramento that could allow the whole plan to come off, at least in California. Currently, state rules there require autonomous cars to have a backup driver inside them, but the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is in the process of trying to change that. The department on Thursday released revised regulations and is taking public comments until Dec. 15.
“We don’t see (regulations) as an impediment to wide-scale deployment,” Ammann told the Chronicle.
GM said about 180 cars are in testing now. It plans to build them in Michigan. In addition to San Francisco, Chevy is testing the vehicles in the Phoenix and Detroit areas. The company envisions the cars being able to be used to deliver packages when rider demand is low, Ammann said.
The testing is more than just testing – it’s improvement, because of machine learning, Ammann noted.
“This product will continuously get better from the moment it’s launched; the more you use it, the better it will get,” Ammann said at the rollout.
Photo: General Motors