GM wants to get in the self-driving car too. The Detroit-based company has announced that next year it will build a fleet of autonomous 2017 Chevrolet Volts and deploy them at its Warren Technical Center campus. The idea is to build a real world “rapid-development lab” using GM employees as guinea pigs. They will be able, thanks to a smartphone app, to call one of the self-driving Volts and have it drop them off somewhere and then go back to park themselves, or pick up someone else. The data gathered from this program is intended to help accelerate the company’s efforts in competing in the field with Google, Tesla, maybe Apple, etc.
We might have to wait many years for a fully autonomous electric car from GM to hit the dealerships, in part because the technology still has to mature, but also because legislation isn’t ready and it’s not quite clear yet how fast – or slow – regulators will move on this (if it can be convincingly shown that it saves lives and is safer than human drivers, things might go fast).
But like Tesla, GM doesn’t plan to go from entirely manual vehicles to fully autonomous ones in one giant step. Instead, they’ll start with a halfway point that they call “Super Cruise”. It’s a technology that they’ve been testing since 2012, and it basically allows the car to take control of steering, acceleration and braking. It can work at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour, or in stop-and-go traffic.
Super Cruise should come out later next year on the 2017 Cadillac CTS. It’ll give us a good opportunity to see how good GM’s self-driving tech truly is.