GM to launch fleet of autonomous ride-sharing vehicles in 2019
04 December, 2017, 01:48 | Author: Barbara Daniel
"We think this represents one of the biggest business opportunities of all time, since the creation of the Internet, " Dan Ammann, GM's president and chief of autonomous vehicle strategy, told investors.
"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", Ammann said at a press and investor event in San Francisco, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
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.
GM is one of several companies that have announced plans to put self-driving vehicles on the road within a few years. Waymo, the autonomous vehicle unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., earlier this month said it's about to start chauffeuring people in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV-supplied minivans without safety drivers manning the steering wheel. An employee in the back will be able to stop the vehicle by pushing a button but won't be able to steer the vehicle.
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.
"We have been committed since we first started talking about our efforts and when we purchased a portion of Lyft to building self-driving cars that operate in a ride-sharing environment", Ray Wert, head of Storytelling and advanced technology communications at General Motors, said.
GM is far from the only traditional automaker investing in autonomous technology and ride-hailing services.
German automaker Daimler AG has teamed up with supplier Bosch to develop autonomous taxis by 2020. GM does have a division dedicated to mobility services, Maven, but it focuses primarily on auto sharing, not ride-hailing. However this announcement helps to solidify the industry speculation that autonomous vehicles will eventually be the sole vessels for ride-hailing services - and, if done strategically, automakers like GM can highly profit from the shift.
Major automakers as well as technology leaders like Alphabet Inc and Intel Corp have poured billions into autonomous vehicle research, although fully self-driving cars are a work in progress.
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