GM isn't wasting much time now that Michigan has cleared some of the legal hurdles to testing self-driving cars in the state. Effective "immediately," the car giant will start testing autonomous rides on Michigan's public roads -- that includes modified Chevy Bolts, of course. The initial focus is on testing around GM's Technical Center offices in Warren, but test drives will reach the metro Detroit area within the "next few months."
It's no shock that GM is taking action while the ink is still drying on bill signatures. GM's driverless car efforts have been frenetic in 2016 -- it started out by partnering with Lyft on a self-driving car network, andbegan testing autonomous Bolts in Arizona and California mere weeks after it bought Cruise Automation. There's a lot of pressure to act, as well. Its Detroit rivals Ford and Fiat Chrysler are hustling on their own self-driving projects, and it knows that Tesla could eat its lunch if it's not careful. Simply put, GM needs to test on its home turf in Michigan if it wants to remain competitive.
GM and Lyft to trial self driving Chevy Bolt taxis within a year
General Motors announced a $500 million investment in Lyft earlier this year as a joint effort to develop a fleet of self-driving taxis.
Although the idea seemed like a distant dream, the duo has announced plans for a testing program on public roads by 2017.
The program will use Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis and 'include real customers in a yet-to-be disclosed city'.
'GM continues to make progress on our previously announced plans related to an integrated on-demand autonomous network with Lyft. Similarly, we have said the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the ideal platform for ride sharing solutions,' a GM spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
'We believe electrification blends perfectly with autonomy when it comes to technology integration.'
'We have nothing specific to announce in relation to potential roll out of vehicles and technologies at this time.'
Although little details have been given about the program, Lyft executives said customers will have the option to opt-in or out while requesting a car via the app, reports The Wall Street Journal.
'We will want to vet the autonomous tech between Cruise, GM and ourselves and slowly introduce this into markets,' Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft's product director, told The Journal.
In addition to the testing program, Lyft is working on a new app that will be used for the autonomous cars.
The app is still a prototype, but will list the option for an autonomous car and there is a GM OnStar assistant to answer questions or report issues while you're en route to your destination.
Passengers will also use it to tell the car when to 'go', when they've finished with the rid and the car can leave.
Matthiesen said his company also is working out how to design the program by which Chevy Bolts would be available to prospective Lyft drivers, as many are unable to get an acceptable vehicle for taxi rides.
The car maker giant hopes to use Lyft and its fleet of drivers as customers for the Bolt – set to launch later this year.
As of right now, the auto giant and Lyft rent the Chevy Equinox to drivers in Chicago who need them.
The news of an autonomous fleet of taxis comes just a little over a month after GM acquired a small software company that has been testing the vehicles on the streets of San Francisco.
The Detroit automaker says it purchased Cruise Automation, a 40-person firm that was founded just three years ago.
The move, coupled with GM's in-house research, should help the company in its race with Google and others to have autonomous cars start transporting people on public roadways.
Cruise Technology, along with Google, is among the few companies with permits from the state of California to test the cars, said Kyle Vogt, the company founder and CEO.
The startup's first prototype sensor suite included two stereo cameras, a 77 GHz radar and 10 axis inertial measurement units.
GM will use Watson AI to recommend services on the road
Artificial intelligence isn't just being used to automate cars... it's finding a home in conventional cars, too. GM has unveiled a partnership with IBM that will see the Watson cognitive computing platform power OnStar Go, its latest in-car service offering. The AI technology will suggest stores and services based on your location, your decisions and your habits. If you're driving home from work, for example, OnStar can remind you to pick up shopping on the way back. It can also recommend restaurants when you arrive in a new city, or tell you that a store order is ready for pickup.
There are already a few companies signing up to use OnStar Go. Mastercardwill enable on-the-move payments through cards stored in your Masterpass wallet. ExxonMobil will help you find gas stations, suggest the best fuel and oil and authorize payments while you're still in the car. Glympse will help you share where you are. iHeartRadio will create personalized radio streams based on your calendars, location and tastes, while Parkopedia will offer both parking info and the opportunity to book a spot while you're on your way.
Yes, this will frequently amount to in-car advertising -- GM isn't shy about acknowledging that this is an expansion of OnStar's existing offers and deals feature. All the same, Watson promises to be helpful. It can be cumbersome and even dangerous to search for services while you're in the car -- this lets you focus on the road. This also lays groundwork for self-driving cars, where finding destinations will be more important than figuring out how to reach those destinations.