MOUNTAIN VIEW (dpa-AFX) - General Motors Co. (GM) is ready to mass produce a driverless car, likely beating stiff competition from other companies like Google, Uber and Tesla that are working on self-driving cars.
This was announced by Kyle Vogt, CEO and founder of Cruise Automation, the driverless car startup acquired by GM last year.
'So, today, we're unveiling the world's first mass-producible car designed to operate without a driver. This isn't just a concept design - it has airbags, crumple zones, and comfortable seats,' Vogt said in a blog post.
Vogt noted that electric self-driving cars will significantly accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy if deployed in large numbers. His company's focus is on rapidly developing self-driving cars at scale.
According to Vogt, Cruise Automation's self-driving car is assembled in a high volume assembly plant capable of producing 100,000's of vehicles per year. These new production models are actually the third generation of the company's self-driving cars.
'In a few weeks, these cars will be a part of the fleet that carries Cruise employees anywhere in San Francisco using our app. For now, there will still be a human behind the wheel,' Vogt noted.
Further, Vogt said that while the previous generations of Cruise's self-driving test vehicles were similar to Chevrolet Bolt EV design, the vehicles unveiled today have almost completely new and fault-tolerant electrical, communication and actuation systems that are unique to a driverless vehicle.
Vogt noted that when GM completed its acquisition of Cruise in mid 2016, the company had already retrofitted its self-driving systems onto the Chevrolet Bolt EV platform to create its first-generation test vehicles.
As a number of critical systems were required to be heavily modified, duplicated for redundancy or newly designed, a GM-team led by Doug Parks began working with Cruise to develop a new second-generation test vehicle.
But these second-generation vehicles did not contain the redundancy and safety systems necessary for full driverless operation. GM then began designing the third-generation vehicles in tandem with production of the second-generation vehicles to vastly reduce the time involved in such an undertaking.
According to Vogt, the development of the third-generation of Cruise's autonomous vehicle happened in just 14 months.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX