GM & Lyft Set To Test Self-Driving Taxis Within A Year

Image courtesy of Ben Schumin

It hasn’t taken General Motors long to figure out how to spend its $500 million investment in Lyft. A month after the carmaker said it would use some of those funds to rent SUVs to prospective drivers, the partners unveiled plans to begin testing self-driving taxis on public roads in California. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the two companies will begin testing a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis within the next year.

The plan was set in motion not only because of Lyft and GM’s partnership, but with the carmaker’s pending acquisition of San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, which focuses on self-driving technology.

Cruise Automation, which launched in 2013, previously created an aftermarket semi-autonomous driving system called Cruise RP-1. While the $10,000 system has since been abandoned, it was able to turn an ordinary car into a piloted vehicle through an extensive install process.

While details of the testing program are sparse, Lyft says it will include real customers and a to-be-determined California city.

Under the program, customers will have the opportunity to opt in or out of the pilot when using Lyft’s app to hail a ride.

“We will want to vet the autonomous tech between Cruise, GM and ourselves and slowly introduce this into markets,” Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft’s product director, told the WSJ.

The companies are currently working on how to get the Chevy Bolt’s to drivers. This could entail an expansion of GM’s rental program with Lyft, which currently only being tested in Chicago with Chevy Equinox SUVs.

Even with an expansion of that program, the companies would face obstacles. Regulators in California were set to vote on the legality of the rental programs between carmakers and ride-hailing companies, before postponing the decision last week.

GM and Lyft’s plan to get self-driving vehicles on the road isn’t the first of its kind. Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Google and Fiat Chrysler were teaming up to develop an autonomous vehicle based on the carmaker’s Pacifica minivans. Before that, Uber announced its own self-driving aspirations, setting 2020 as its target date to have cars on the road.

GM, Lyft to Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis [The Wall Street Journal]

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