Taco truck halts GM autonomous car's cruise through city streets

GM's Self-Driving Cars to Be Ready for Ride-Sharing in 2019

The cars have a back up driver in case something goes wrong, but it is possible the back up drivers would be eliminated when the commercial launch happens in over a year.

The ambitious timeline could place GM in an enviable position: with the unique ability to provide existing ride-hailing companies like Lyft or Uber with a growing fleet of autonomous vehicles or, better yet, to unleash their own service.

"This business is potentially bigger than our current core business", Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens told the group.

GM said it is important to be first to get the self-driving electric vehicles on the road to allow quick improvement of driver experience to give the company a competitive advantage. The Bolt's human backup driver disengaged the system and took the wheel after the auto waited for more than a minute behind the truck where construction workers ordered lunch. "While the vehicle drove conservatively (i.e., taking time, strictly obeying speed limits, checking carefully at both sides before turning at an intersection), we'd also note that the driving environment was quite complex".

Waymo, which is the self-driving vehicle spinoff of Google, was the first company to take the driver from the seat on public roadways in early November.


German automaker Daimler AG has teamed up with supplier Bosch to develop autonomous taxis by 2020. However this announcement helps to solidify the industry speculation that autonomous vehicles will eventually be the sole vessels for ride-hailing services - and, if done strategically, automakers like GM can highly profit from the shift.

As it refines the performance of its cars, GM has the capacity to rapidly build and deploy more self-driving vehicles to other markets around the world.

"It's a big opportunity", GM President Dan Ammann said in an interview in San Francisco last week.

GM expects autonomous cars to continually generate revenue over their entire lives because they will be used in ride-hailing, rather than sold to individual customers outright.

GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in a year ago. After the afternoon presentation, shares of GM fell 1.8 percent to close at $43.04 while the broader markets ended higher.

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