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General Motors has just recently acquired a self-driving car start-up called Cruise Automation and they’ve already mounted sensor arrays onto the roofs of a few Chevy Bolts.


The above specimen was caught testing by SpiedBilde on the streets of San Francisco, uploaded by The Verge and interesting enough, one of the drivers in that Bolt is Cruise Automation co-founder Kyle Vogt. He’s obviously not taking a back seat with this project and their site stated as much, “we are testing our autonomous technology on the all new Chevrolet Bolt EV in San Francisco.”

GM has been pretty open about the fact that they see autonomous cars as an integral part of its future, that’s why they put down a $500 million investment in Lyft. They could actually be testing the passenger ferrying abilities of the autonomous Bolt EV since all four seats seems to be occupied in the spy shot.

This shot of their self-driving Bolt is certainly putting pressure on those who are in the autonomous fleet race because soon after the spied photo was uploaded, Uber decided to respond with a shot of their own Ford Fusion hybrid equipped with radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras.

Who do you think will win the autonomous fleet arms race?
 

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The technology will likely be the easiest hurdle.

California's draft regulations on autonomous driving would prohibit commercial use (Lyft, Uber, etc) and would require a driver and steering wheel. If other states follow Californias lead, it could be a long while before we see "fleets".

“We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars,” Google said in a statement. Chris Urmson, the director of the company’s self-driving car project, says Google will continue to work with the DMV, but that the proposed regulation “maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential.”1 The rules would bar another appealing use case for autonomous cars: replacing Uber drivers with robots. Any company looking to use autonomous technology for a commercial purpose in the state, like trucking or operating buses, is SOL.
 

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I'd assume legislators will cave when manufacturing giants like GM and Ford are pushing for the commercial use of self driving vehicles. Once the self driving systems have been perfected, or as close to perfection as they can get, we'll see them push for the the complete removal of drivers in their fleet.

But, this won't be for a long while yet. Hopefully self driving cars will be more affordable and common when I'm too old to drive.
 

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I doubt they're open for beta testing, Probably only GM and Cruise Automation employees are eligible for testing.
 

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I doubt they're open for beta testing, Probably only GM and Cruise Automation employees are eligible for testing.
I definitely agree. It's not something as simple as getting in and seeing what happens. Multiple computers have to be monitored to check everything as it goes
 

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It's the type of testing that involves engineers since during development it takes a special type of person to observe and evaluate the system. Can't just bring any regular person on board.
 

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It's the type of testing that involves engineers since during development it takes a special type of person to observe and evaluate the system. Can't just bring any regular person on board.
Maybe they can take on passengers as observers but the range will drop significantlly with the extra weight in the rear.>:)
 

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They will do it in the way they do regular promotional work which is going to be what ever gets them the favorable result they want all while being honest (or honest enough)
 

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Oh for sure. They're favorable results are always achieved under the utmost best of circumstances and variables. Everything from the temperature, wind-speed, elevation, it all needs to be completely ideal
 

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Oh for sure. They're favorable results are always achieved under the utmost best of circumstances and variables. Everything from the temperature, wind-speed, elevation, it all needs to be completely ideal
Not quite correct. The test vehicle must pass their goals under bad weather conditions, too. Would you drive (or ride in) a vehicle that hasn't pass rain or snow certification? If I were in charge, I would throw all possible conditions at the test vehicles and observe ther reactions. One will be an encounter with a skidding vehicle on a wet and slippery road, knowing that any quick change of direction (to avoid a collision) can cause a new skid, a loss of control, and a new collision which has happened in real life to many actual drivers. :eek:
 

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Not quite correct. The test vehicle must pass their goals under bad weather conditions, too. Would you drive (or ride in) a vehicle that hasn't pass rain or snow certification? If I were in charge, I would throw all possible conditions at the test vehicles and observe ther reactions. One will be an encounter with a skidding vehicle on a wet and slippery road, knowing that any quick change of direction (to avoid a collision) can cause a new skid, a loss of control, and a new collision which has happened in real life to many actual drivers. :eek:
Oh no no, I mean I completely agree that they have to undergo testing in different weather extremes, and even pot-hole testing to make sure it'll all hold up well. But when it comes to taking spec information such as fuel economy, horsepower, etc. They would try to achieve the utmost best results as possible
 

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GM is really putting a lot into this autonomous Bolt, they've recently announced that they'll be hiring up to 750 people over the next two years and the new hires will be working on research and development for autonomous systems and controls.
 

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Hey, that's quite a big thing. 750 more jobs is great in general. But glad to see the Autonomous Bolt is in significant focus. Should be big news coming from that in the not too distant future
 

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Pretty interesting to read that autonomous vehicle engineers are being poached and automotive companies are going to great lengths for talent. Good news for both the consumers who would like to see autonomous Bolts soon and also for engineers on the lookout for a job.
 

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At this rate, think we could very well hit the estimated deadline of 2020 for the first commercial autonomous vehicles. Or is that still a pipe dream?
 

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2020? Maybe, but don't hold your breath.
Even if the technology is ready, not sure regulators, insurance companies, etc. will be. Automakers are perceived as having "deep pockets" and will be sued for even the slightest damage caused by a car in autonomous mode.

I expect we'll see some applications phased in.
Automatic valet at airports (hotels, parking garages, large employee lots) would be cool. Have the car drop you (and your luggage if applicable) at the curb, then park itself at a wireless charging station. It could move when topped off leaving room for the next EV to charge. I could then pick you up when you're ready. This would allow testing in a much more controlled environment than open roads, with lower speeds and fewer variables.
 
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