General Motors (GM) has announced ambitious plans for a 2019 commercial launch of autonomous taxis, which the company aims to release in multiple cities. Described as a direct challenge to other autonomous vehicle tech ventures, including Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Uber Technologies, the move represents a large step forward for prevalence of self-driving vehicles in everyday life.
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Autonomous Taxis In A Matter Of Months
With the success of the electric Chevrolet Bolt, its acquisition of Cruise Automation last year, and its $500 million investment in ride-sharing company Lyft also in 2016, GM’s move into the autonomous ride-hauling service race isn’t much of a surprise, but their claim that they can make this roll-out a reality in such a short time has turned a lot of heads. “If we continue on our current rate of change we will be ready to deploy this technology, in a large scale, in the most complex environments, in 2019,” GM President Dan Ammann said.
A Goal For Safe, Low-Cost Transportation
Ammann also stated that safety would be the deciding factor on when driverless taxis ultimately hit city streets. GM did not name specific locations for their launch but for “dense urban environments”. They have also stressed the economic benefits for riders. GM’s CFO Chuck Stevens has said that with the launch of their autonomous taxis, “We have a path to take 40 percent of the cost out of ride services,” taking charges to less than $1 per mile by 2025 compared to roughly $2.50 per mile today according to a Reuters’ report.
Image Source: The Detroit News
Who Will Win The Self-Driving Race?
While GM has the right umbrella of capabilities to make this type of autonomous launch a reality in less than two years, Uber, Waymo, and other companies are closing in on the race to get autonomous taxis deployed in major cities and adjacent suburbs. Whatever company will be most successful with their brand is not yet clear, but one thing appears sure: public access to autonomous vehicles is just around the corner.
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