General Motors and Lyft will start to test a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis on public roads within a year. As was discussed earlier on our blog, GM Ventures’ acquisition of Lyft and now initiative to bring self-driving cars to fruition is an attempt to challenge Silicon Valley giants and reshape the entire auto industry. The program relies upon the technology of another one of GM Ventures and General Motors’ acquisitions, Cruise Automation Inc. Cruise Automation, a San Francisco based company, has been working on self-driving technology for about two years and will continue doing so under the umbrella of GM after a $1 billion purchase.
While the details of the autonomous-testing program are still being ironed out, according to a Lyft executive, it will include real customers and will be based in an undisclosed city. GM’s recent acquisition-spree can be attributed to their effort to answer the tech industry’s efforts to displace conventional auto makers. The daunting task is directed at challenging Alphabet and Uber. The Google self-driving car program has gained a sizable lead over conventional auto makers and recently received an additional boost this week after inking a minivan supply agreement with Fiat Chrysler. Additionally, Uber, much bigger than Lyft, has its own self-driving research center in Pittsburgh and is preparing for autonomous vehicles in its fleet by 2020.
Competition is heating up in the auto industry over automated driving and it will be interesting to see whether GM and Lyft’s plan will work out later this year. Any thoughts?