General Motors plans commercial, autonomous robot-taxi service by 2019

04 December, 2017, 01:47 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • GM will put self-driving fleets in cities in 2019

The largest USA automaker's plan for a self-driving car-sharing service comes at a time when auto sales in its home market are slowing after a record seven-year streak of gains. Using their vast dealership networks, nationwide influence and manufacturing prowess, a GM-driven ride-hailing service may be positioned to leapfrog the Silicon Valley startups that have been trying to disrupt the auto industry.

Vogt said those issues would improve over time and that the victor of the self-driving vehicle race would be the one that first launches at "massive scale" rather than just being the first to market a model. "We're very happy with how the technology is progressing and given that we feel we have the capability to move forward with one partner, many partners or no partners at all".

By 2019, GM plans to have a fleet of self-driving cars offering rides in cities where the ride-hailing business is big and getting larger.

GM's Cruise Automation unit is testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles with human backup drivers in San Francisco, Detroit and Phoenix, and has plans to test in Manhattan next year.

GM said it is important to be first to get the self-driving electric vehicles on the road to allow quick improvement of driver experience to give the company a competitive advantage. "The faster we can do that the greater impact we can have on society". The vehicles are expected to be used as delivery vehicles, and to help transport people.




Google's Waymo, German automaker Daimler and Ford are also developing self-driving cars that would be available for ride-sharing services.

Dan Ammann, President of General Motors (GM) told investors, the lifelong revenue generation from self-driving cars could reach up to the "several hundred thousands of dollars". GM CFO Chuck Stevens said autonomous ride sharing could be "potentially bigger than our current core business, with better margins".

GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in previous year.

"The tech is real", he wrote, noting that GM's vehicles will be "monitored by humans at a control center" and the company will benefit from their aggressive timeline. And it's not quite clear yet whether the automaker will be first.

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