American-founded automotive juggernaut General Motors is planning for a world full of autonomous cars.
In a statement Thursday, GM President Dan Ammann said the company, at its current rate of progress, will be able to deploy its autonomous vehicles “in large scale in the most complex environments in 2019.” General Motors has roughly 1,200 employees working on its driverless car efforts, following its estimated $1 billion acquisition of Cruise Automation in 2016.
Thanks to Cruise’s technology, GM has now produced 180 autonomous Chevrolet Bolts. These are being tested on roadways in San Francisco, Michigan, and Arizona, the New York Times reports and will hit the streets of New York City in early 2018.
GM seems to be in a similar place progress-wise as competitors Alphabet (with its autonomous vehicle spinoff Waymo), Uber, and Tesla.
Waymo was readying its fleet of driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans to hit the roads in October, according to one report. Waymo, which has a test fleet in Phoenix, partnered with Lyft in order to get its autonomous car testing efforts off the ground more quickly.
Uber has also invested heavily in the autonomous car space, to the tune of 24,000 self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs. Uber has said the company may not survive without self-driving cars—an indicator of how serious companies are taking this technological race.
While GM, Waymo, and Uber are focusing on outfitting taxi-like ride-hailing services with autonomous vehicles, Tesla is putting the technology straight into the hands of car buyers. With built-in autopilot technology, drivers can safely take their hands off the wheels in its semi-autonomous vehicles. However, the company is still perfecting that full self-driving car experience.
In October, GM’s director of autonomous vehicle integration said he thought Tesla’s claims that its cars already have all the technology necessary for total self-driving was “full of crap.”
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Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt says the company will be test driving one million miles a month on its autonomous electric vehicles in 2018. Then the following year, General Motors plans to launch its autonomous cars as a fleet of taxis, charging riders $1.50 per mile for rides. It will be cheaper than today’s ride-hailing services—if it all works out to plan.