GM to Deliver Autonomous Ride-Sharing Service to 'Multiple Cities' by 2019

GM's Self-Driving Cars to Be Ready for Ride-Sharing in 2019

Soon after announcing a future rollout of autonomous Bolts to New York City, General Motors has laid out its plan for autonomous ride-sharing to investors, and while only general details are available at the moment, we have learned some interesting tidbits about GM's plans.

The automaker is using the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt as its autonomous mule, dovetailing Thursday's autonomous projection with GM's earlier vow to roll out a profitable electric vehicle platform by 2021.

GM's robotic taxi roadmap is shorter than that of rival Ford, which has previously said it will have a commercial auto produced without a steering wheel or pedals by 2021. Once they're on the road, the vehicles' computers will constantly learn and improve.

In a note to clients Friday, Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote that instead of the "overly-aggressive timelines pushed by Tesla", GM's ability to launch autonomous vehicles for a ride-sharing service now "seems possible".

Tesla, which now sells electric cars with some autonomous features, but says they already contain the hardware to one day be fully autonomous, also has its eyes on running a driverless taxi service in the coming years, provided by owners' cars operating while they are at work, asleep or on holiday. Those tests are taking place in San Francisco, Detroit, and Phoenix. That is expected to drive consumer adoption, which is crucial to achieving profitability.

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Apparently, the most likely location for launching this service first is in San Francisco, where the self-driving Bolts already have a lot of experience. That was the message to shareholders on 30 November as the company confirmed plans to launch a commercial fleet of electric, autonomous vehicles (AVs) in urban centres in 2019. "Autonomy presents a massive opportunity, but until this point the space has been somewhat riddled with hazy promises".

"This is huge", Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said.

GM acquired Cruise past year in an effort to accelerate its development of self-driving technology.

"General Motors" executives clearly showed their sense of urgency to lead the autonomous vehicle market", Michelle Krebs, an analyst for AutoTrader, said in a statement. After the afternoon presentation, shares of GM fell 1.8 percent to close at $43.04 while the broader markets ended higher.

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