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General Motors Advances Its Autonomous Vehicle Program

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Mar. 31 2017, Updated 7:36 a.m. ET

Vehicle automation

Previously, we discussed how autonomous vehicles are being tested on public roads. Data suggest that the vehicles can make peoples’ commutes much safer. To a great extent, adoption of autonomous vehicles could eliminate the human error factor from road accidents. Notably, human errors account for most of the road accidents in the US. Now, let’s take a look at how General Motors (GM), the largest US automaker, accelerated its autonomous vehicle development in recent years.

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Acquisition to accelerate development

In March 2016, General Motors announced the acquisition of Cruise Automation to accelerate its autonomous vehicle development. Cruise Automation is a San Francisco–based technology company that was founded in 2013. The company is known for providing highway automated systems for vehicles.

After completing the acquisition, General Motors started testing its self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV (electric vehicle) on public roads in the San Francisco Bay area in June 2016.

In January 2016, General Motors also made an investment in Lyft, the ride-sharing services provider, and launched an on-demand mobility services brand “Maven.” With Lyft’s help, General Motors expects to develop an autonomous vehicle network in the near future.

Largest test fleet

In December 2016, General Motors revealed its plan to start producing “the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly plant beginning in early 2017.”

General Motors is testing more than 40 autonomous vehicles on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale. Currently, General Motors’ driverless car testing fleet is the largest in the automotive industry (VCR). General Motors is ahead of its direct US peers including Ford (F).

General Motors wants to deliver fully autonomous vehicles in the market before its peers.

In the next part, we’ll discuss Fiat Chrysler’s (FCAU) collaborations with Google (GOOGL).

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