Published: Sun, December 03, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

GM plans large scale launch

GM plans large scale launch

General Motors Company expects to have autonomous cars in big cities in 2019.

On Thursday, GM will demonstrate its growing fleet of computer-operated, battery-powered Chevrolet Bolts in San Francisco to dozens of investment analysts, who are eager to evaluate the automaker's advanced test vehicles.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are about 100 test Bolts (with a human inside) already driving autonomously around crowded San Francisco - a challenging environment considering the bustling streets rife with avid bikers, trolleys, and traffic.

Uber, despite its many issues through 2017, is now offering a free, autonomous ride-sharing service in Pittsburgh and Phoenix, albeit with a safety driver. GM said that based on its current rate that it expects its autonomous vehicles to be at "commercial launch at scale" within the next year.

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To emphasize the company's progress, Ammann said the cars would be ready for consumer applications in "quarters, not years".

In an announcement yesterday, the firm said it believes government regulations will support development of self driving cars in the coming few years.

Like Ford, GM was slow to share its self-driving auto plans with the public, but the company has dramatically ramped up its efforts over the last two years. The vehicles are expected to be used as delivery vehicles, and to help transport people.

The company on Thursday added that it expects to reduce the cost of self-driving lidar sensors to $300 (£220) from $20,000 (£15,000) but did not say when.

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This announcement comes more than a month removed from GM's acquisition of Strobe Inc, a LIDAR technology company whose engineering team is now on GM's Cruise Automation team.

Users will summon one of GM's "robo-taxis" through an app and a driverless vehicle will then pick them up and take them to their destination.

Lidar, which relies on light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on and near the road, is seen by most automotive experts as one of the crucial elements for full self-driving cars and has become a prime focus.

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Formula One chairman Chase Carey and former Ferrari boss Jean Todt, president of the governing FIA, both attended the presentation.

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