GM to Launch Autonomous Ride-Hailing Vehicles in 2019

Automaker expected to make billions of dollars in revenue

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Ford recently announced it would offer self-driving cars for ride-hailing purposes by 2021. But it looks like General Motors will gain a lead over its rival if it goes through with plans to launch commercial autonomous cars by 2019.

GM will introduce self-driving cars at scale in “dense urban environments” in 2019. The announcement was made by GM President Dan Ammann at an event in San Francisco earlier this week, reports Automotive News. Incidentally, Ammann holds a board seat at Lyft as well. GM and Lyft agreed last year to work together on launching a network of on-demand driverless vehicles across the U.S.

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GM didn’t indicate where it will deploy its self-driving vehicles. Right now, the automaker is testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolts in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Warren, Michigan. It will expand to New York City next year.

Since you don’t have to share profits with a human driver, GM is expected to make billions of dollars from its autonomous cars soon after they launch. Of course, autonomous technology is expected to come a long way in the next several years. The ride-hailing vehicles should cost less than $1 per mile to operate by 2025, GM contends, compared to more than $3 it currently costs to travel a mile in a city such as San Francisco. By acquiring lidar company Strobe, GM hopes to dramatically reduce the cost of lidar units for autonomous cars.

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Earlier this year, GM announced it would expand its self-driving division called Cruise Automation. A new R&D facility will double the division’s current research and development space. Over the course of five years, Cruise Automation will add more than 1,100 new employees.

GM’s announcement follows a reported incident with an autonomous Bolt on the streets of San Francisco. According to a report from Reuters, a self-driving Bolt became confused by a taco truck during media rides earlier this week.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required), Reuters

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