General Motors is confident it will have an autonomous, all electric car on the road sooner than most expect, available on Lyft’s ride-sharing app.
Speaking to Tech Insider, Pam Fletcher, the chief engineer of autonomous tech at GM, hinted that the tech is progressing faster than most expected and a consumer model could be coming soon.
“We have not made that announcement yet, but what I would say is this is all coming much faster than people anticipate, so I’ll say that much,” said Fletcher. “We are working on an on-demand ride-sharing network with Lyft, it’s not something we are thinking about, it’s something we are very much readying for consumer use.”
GM has already tested ridesharing apps for autonomous cars at its test facilities, but bringing that to public roads would require quite a hefty change in the legislation regarding autonomous cars.
Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx has hinted at federal regulations for autonomous cars in the near future, but we suspect driverless vehicles will remain off limits, at least in urban areas, after the Tesla Model S fatality has changed a lot of people’s opinions on self-driving.
Is GM self-driving’s dark horse?
It does show that GM could be the dark horse in the autonomous race, surpassing early favorites Google, Tesla, and Uber. In the past year, GM has invested $500 million in Lyft and $1 billion to purchase Cruise Automation, bulking up its autonomous prowess.
The automaker started testing its autonomous tech on public roads as well, bringing two customized Chevrolet Bolt EV cars to California earlier this year for testing.
Instead of selling the car, GM appears to be looking into a new driverless fleet that works inside the Lyft app. Uber, Lyft’s main rival in the U.S., is reportedly planning similar functionality for its self-driving fleet.
Google and Tesla may also be planning ridesharing or car-loaning services, instead of customers purchasing a car outright. That might not excite customers wanting to own their own autonomous car, but may provide means for millions to get around the city in a car for the first time, boosting mobility and productivity for all.