General Motors and ride-hailing company Lyft have promised to roll out a fleet of autonomous cabs by next year.
In January, GM and Lyft, the ride-hailing company, began a formal partnership with a goal to jump ahead of the competition that is developing autonomous vehicles. By next year, Lyft will launch a pilot program — in a city that has yet to be disclosed– with a fleet of self-driving Chevy Bolt electric vehicles. Customers will have the choice to opt in or out of the pilot program when requesting a ride from the company’s mobile app.
In March, GM and Lyft began a program that rents the Chevrolet Equinox to drivers needing vehicles in the Chicago area, but that program is due to expand to more cities and will transition to the Bolt EVs instead of the Chevy SUV.
The plan is still a work in progress, according to Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft director of product.
“At first, we’re talking about a very small number of vehicles,” said Matthiesen, who will speak Friday afternoon at the Detroit Techweek conference. “You’d start with a handful and slowly increase the supply as you gain confidence. Safety is paramount.”
The location of the testing is still being discussed, according to a Lyft source. But it could incorporate some of the technology GM is trying to purchase in its acquisition of Cruise Automation, a 3-year-old San Francisco startup for which GM has offered to pay about $1 billion.
Matthiesen said Lyft and GM will want to validate the Cruise Automation system before taking it on public roads.
GM has said it wants to close the Cruise Automation acquisition by the end of June, but that could be delayed by competing lawsuits between Cruise’s CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt and a former associate, Jeremy Guillory, who claims he is entitled to a significant percentage of the acquisition price.
Uber also has invested heavily in the robotics and artificial intelligence needed to take full control of a vehicle. Google has been testing its self-driving cars on public roads in Mountain California and Texas for several years.
During the initial tests, human drivers will be behind the wheel to take control if necessary. While that may be so, GM and Lyft still have to find a city and state where regulations will permit operating vehicles without a driver.
In this TFLcar EV ‘mashup review’, it’s the 2017 Chevy Bolt vs 2016 Nissan Leaf.