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Friday 2 December 2016
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GM, Lyft Will Hit Road In Self-Driving Chevy Bolts

GM, Lyft Will Hit Road In Self-Driving Chevy Bolts

General Motors and Lyft aren’t wasting any time putting their new partnership to work in their plan to take on Silicon Valley.

The two companies will start testing self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs on public roads within a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

We don’t know which city will get the pilot project yet, but passengers will get the choice to opt in or out via a Lyft prototype app. It would give customers the option of being picked up by an autonomous car. It also allows passengers to tell the car when to “go” and when the ride is over – so the car knows when it can scoot.

The automaker and ride-sharing startup only joined forces recently. In January, GM invested $500 million in the Uber rival. Uber, by the way, has a self-driving research center in Pittsburgh and plans to add autonomous vehicles to its fleet by 2020.

GM Lyft

General Motors President Dan Ammann (center) with Lyft Inc. co-founders John Zimmer (right) and Logan Green (left)

The whole test project also relies on another new recent GM investment: the $1 billion planned purchase of Cruise Automation. The San Francisco-based company developed a system for retrofitting existing vehicles with autonomous-driving software. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

The 2017 Bolt is GM’s poster EV with an expected range of more than 200 miles.  GM touts the car as the perfect fit for drivers who need space in front and back, since the battery is under the cabin floor.

The biggest hurdle isn’t the car or even the technology, but legal issues. Automakers are urging the U.S. government to spend up the regulatory process on autonomous vehicles and develop standard rules. Currently, states are coming up with a patchwork of rules and regulations on their own.

An actual driver in the front seat is still a must at this stage, although companies like Uber and Lyft want to get rid of the driver entirely one day. For now, Lyft will have drivers at the wheel ready to intervene.

Earlier this week, Google and FCA announced a first-of-its-kind joint project of their own. The companies plan to be build a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid self-driving minivans which will double’s Google’s self-driving fleet.

Photo Credit: GM