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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on May 9th, 2016 | by Steve Hanley


Lyft To Use Autonomous Chevy Bolts

May 9th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

When Chevrolet invested half a billion dollars in Lyft earlier this year, people wondered how it would use the ridesharing app in its business. Last week, the company gave us the answer. It says it will introduce a taxi service using autonomous-driving Chevy Bolt electric cars in undisclosed US cities in 2017. The Chevy Bolt is expected to go into production before the end of this year. Lyft users will be able to opt out of the autonomous trial if they wish. Sitting in the back seat while the car drives itself may be a little too close to science fiction for some.

Chevy Bolt

Chevrolet has always said that the Bolt, which has more interior space than its small size suggests, will be ideal for taxi service. Its investment in Lyft signifies its willingness to be an active participant in the ridesharing market. The Chevy Bolt is expected to appeal to people looking to earn a living driving for Lyft. It remains to be seen, however, whether people will embrace self-driving cars that have no human operator behind the wheel.

General Motors is also in the process of acquiring Cruise, a San Francisco–based tech startup that designs and builds autonomous driving systems. The General is betting there is money to be made from the synergy between its manufacturing skill, Lyft’s ridesharing app, and Cruise’s technological skill.

Tesla Motors is known to be very interested in that market, as is Google. It is possible that Apple also has its eye on producing driverless cars that will be shared rather than owned outright. Ridesharing and carsharing are seen as potentially lucrative businesses. Typically, a private passenger car is only used 5% of the time. The rest of the time it sits parked somewhere. Carsharing will keep a car busy far more frequently, generating income for someone all the while. At least, that’s the theory.

Source: TechNews  Photo credit: Chevrolet

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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

  • Robert Middleswarth

    The only question I have is will the hardware in these test cars be the same as a production Bolt? How much aftermarket hardware are they installing vs what hardware the vehicle comes with.

    • JeremyK

      I don’t think GM is advertising that the production Bolt will have autonomous capabilities. Even if it did, there are a lot of legal issues that would need to be resolved before GM would release an autonomous car (even if they could). Any manufacturer operating in the (current) gray area of the law is risking their whole company if a serious accident were to occur while driving autonomously. As for hardware; sensors are a commodity and relatively inexpensive. The value-add is in the processing of that data. Probably why GM snatched up Cruise Automation earlier this year (in addition to Lyft and Sidecar). GM is clearly on a mission to insure that it is well positioned for the future of autonomous vehicles.

      • Robert Middleswarth

        Even if they include all the hardware at best we would get would be a basic Autopolit type system where it will help keep you in your own lane. However if the hardware is included there is the possibility it could get turned on someday.

      • Peter Miller

        On their website, GM is now suggesting the specs for the Bolt will include front collision avoidance and rear collision avoidance as well as lane control.

        • JeremyK

          Some of these safety features are likely to become mandatory, so perhaps GM is just staying in front of legislation. I’m guessing you’ll see GM’s best tech rolled out first in Cadillac models, potentially followed by the Volt and Bolt as options. For example, Cadillac SuperCruise was supposed to debut this year, but has been delayed. I suspect they’re making some improvements using even better technology recently acquired through the acquisition of Cruise Automation.

  • sjc_1

    GM was run into the ground under Rick Wagoner,
    they have better management now.

    • I agree GM has improved a lot. I don’t know enough about the management personnel to make a call on that, but my understanding is that government requirements after bailing The General out have resulted in a much better company.

  • newnodm

    The Lyft deal is likely more about promoting the new car and Lyft.

    • eveee

      $$$. ka ching. No idealism there. And if they have to cut a few driver earning rates and then lay them all off to do it, no problem.

  • vensonata .

    A corner has been turned, and there is no going back for any of the major car companies. They delayed as long as they could. They know that being original and creative is much more taxing than just maintaining a product except for an occasional color change. They have been dragged into the future and will have to get long dormant neuronal circuits working again.

  • Brett

    I hesitate to heap praise on a company that traditionally has been a big part of the problem, rather than the solution, but their investment in the Lyft, along with moving along the electric vehicle revolution (more so than the other two large American automotive manufacturers) seems to be signalling that GM is still focused on the long game in transportation.

    If the future is going to involve less drivers and less cars, owning a ride-sharing service using autonomously driven electric vehicles, seems like a pretty good strategy.

    • Yes, I think they are one of the most forward thinking/planning of the legacy automakers.

    • Marion Meads

      less cars definitely… less need for parking spaces… no more car ownership, only subscribe to commuter transportation services. GM sees this and I hope that along with Tesla, Lyft, Uber all develop into subscription transportation service industries. No more car dealers at last without the need for lobbying against them. They simply go the way of the dodo, becoming irrelevant in the near future.

      And then we have commuting service autonomous drones in very congested cities… and who’s to say that Tesla won’t be developing the sky commuting services as well?

      • Jenny Sommer

        Quite some wishfull thinking there.

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