Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lyft, GM Self-Driving Fleet Of Chevrolet Bolt EVs Could Launch In 2018

The Lyft-GM self-driving cars’ road test is set to be the largest of its kind by any automaker before 2020, which is the year when others such as Uber, which is preparing its own fleet in partnership with Daimler and Ford, hit the roads. Ford plans to build its self-driven vehicles at its Detroit plant in late 2020, which could potentially be deployed with ride-sharing services such as Uber by 2021. Others are also testing their self-driving cars, but they are doing so in small numbers. The Reuters report adds that Google is testing a batch of 60 self-driving cars from its Waymo subsidiary in four states.

On Friday afternoon, Reuters reported that two sources familiar with GM’s plans said the automaker would deploy thousands of Chevrolet Bolts equipped with self-driving equipment in 2018. The move would be in partnership with ride-hailing service Lyft.

GM has said it won’t sell autonomous vehicles to individuals. Instead, the automotive giant is targeting fleets for private companies and ride-hailing companies. The American automaker partnered with Lyft a year ago to work on driverless autos, and it even purchased a Lyft and Uber rival called Sidecar after that startup closed down.

GM announced yesterday that its in-house car-sharing service, called Maven, would launch 100 Bolts for rental in the city of Los Angeles. Those electric vehicles won’t be autonomous, but Lyft drivers will be able to take advantage of the Maven cars and use them as their work vehicle for a fee.

According to Reuters’ sources, the autonomous Bolts to be used by Lyft will be primarily located in San Francisco. Uber tried a similar thing this winter—the ride hailing service deployed a handful of autonomous Ubers in the Northern California city in December. The test program picked up Uber passengers after informing them that the car coming to get them would be a self-driving car supervised by an Uber engineer. The state of California requested that Uber end its test after regulators realized Uber hadn’t applied for a permit under DMV rules.

Uber defied the state’s DMV and argued that its autonomous system is indistinguishable from an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which does not need a special permit to be on California roads. When California ordered Uber to cease its operations, Uber took its test program to Arizona rather than apply for the DMV permitting.

GM has already applied for a permit to operate on California roads, and it has posted videos of autonomous Bolts on the streets of San Francisco, created in partnership with Cruise Automation.

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