Testing autonomous cars in places like San Francisco is relatively easy. The weather is consistent. But most of the country does not live in an ideal climate. That means testing eventually has to take place in places where it snows. General Motors understands that, and announced today they’ll begin testing autonomous Bolts immediately in Michigan.
“Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality,” said General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.
A recent change in Michigan law allows for the testing of autonomous vehicles there. The vehicles will have engineers on board, of course, but this will be a great chance for the company to learn as much as they can while driving in the snow. Snow is notoriously difficult for sensors to reliably work in.
Using the Bolt also makes sense, because our autonomous future definitely isn’t powered by internal combustion.
Here’s the press release from General Motors;
DETROIT — On the heels of the signing of the SAVE Act legislation to support autonomous vehicle testing and deployment in Michigan, General Motors will immediately begin testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. GM also announced it will produce the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly plant beginning in early 2017.
“Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality,” said General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Our autonomous technology will be reliable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles.”
Testing is already underway on GM’s Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan, and with the passage of the SAVE Act legislation will now expand to public roads on the facility’s outskirts. Within the next few months, testing will expand to metro Detroit, which will become GM’s main location for development of autonomous technology in winter climates.
Workers at the Orion Township assembly plant will build test fleet Bolt EVs equipped with fully autonomous technology. The plant currently manufactures the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Sonic. The new equipment will include LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to ensure system safety, leveraging GM’s proven manufacturing quality standards.
The test fleet vehicles will be used by GM engineers for continued testing and validation of GM’s autonomous technology already underway on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as part of the Michigan testing fleet.
Since the beginning of 2016, GM has taken significant steps in its development of autonomous vehicle technology.
In January, the company announced the formation of a dedicated autonomous vehicle engineering team and a $500 million investment in Lyft to develop an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S. In March, the company announced the acquisition of Cruise Automation to provide deep software talent and rapid development expertise to help speed development.
In June, GM began testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EVs on the public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale. The company has more than 40 autonomous vehicles testing in the two cities.