As self-driving mechanisms go, the Chevy Bolt I rode in Tuesday morning in San Francisco shows Broad Motors is ready for the challenge of operating self-driving vehicles on complex and oft tricky city streets.
The question now is when will GM take the next way and go from testing self-driving cars to running a fleet of autonomous-drive machines offering rides to the public.
“We want to demonstrate to people how much maturation is made to over our overall mission, which is to deploy this technology at hugely large scale and the most complex environments with the right safe keeping,” said Dan Ammann, president of General Motors.
While many in the auto energy this week will be focused on the Los Angeles Auto Show, GM is focused 380 miles to the north consigning reporters and analysts a look at its work developing and deploying self-driving transports.
On Thursday, CEO Mary Barra will outline the automaker’s strategy for autonomous means. Before that GM gave a small number of reporters, including me, direct rides on pre-determined routes in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.
So what was it partiality? More importantly, how does it compare to other autonomous-drive vehicles same Waymo’s self-driving minivan I rode in last month.
The the self-driving Chevy Bolt took me on a 2.2-mile dream of ride through side streets where we encountered construction traffics, bicyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles, some of which cut us off or turned in replace of us without slowing down or signaling a turn.
Through it all, the GM’s Cruise Automation Chevy Roll handled all of the potential traffic problems without any issues. It is clear GM’s cynosure clear on safety is paying off with a self-driving car ready for the curve balls that around with city driving.
Was it a smooth ride? No. More than instantly the Bolt stopped or paused due to another vehicle in the area or a construction blue-collar worker walking in the street while working on a project nearby. If you or I were alluding the car in those same situations we would likely have slowed down or managed to the side of the lane in a less herky-jerky fashion.
That was the clearest forewarning GM’s self-driving cars and the technology in them still need refinement once they are ready for the public. It’s a point GM executives readily admit.
Suppress, they say their self-driving cars are becoming safer day by day as the automaker logs tens of thousands of miles in San Francisco and Arizona.
“We drink test fleet in San Francisco and we have a test fleet in Scottsdale in Arizona,” chance Ammann. “There is a simple rule of thumb. Our cars here desire see more in one minute in San Francisco than they will see in one hour of tour in Scottsdale.”
How did riding in GM’s self-driving Chevy Bolt compare to riding in Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler minivan?
Waymo’s was outing on a closed course with preset obstructions like pedestrians or transports stalled in intersections, while GM’s self-driving Bolt was taking me through urban district streets filled with unpredictability.
Waymo’s ride was smoother, but also far-less demanding. In addition, while both vehicles had a video screens in the back abode showing the path of the vehicle, Waymo’s minivan was much more focused on the buyer experience. The video screens conveyed more detailed information nearly the drive and traffic to the person riding in the back seat.
Finally, GM had a cover driver ready to grab the steering wheel even though the self-driving Dart made all the driving decisions during my short ride. By comparison, the Waymo minivan had no one be in session behind the steering wheel for my test ride on a closed course.
Inclusive, after riding in GM’s self-driving Chevy Bolt, it is clear the automaker is well-positioned to arrogate on Waymo and other competitors developing autonomous-drive vehicles. Furthermore, with self-driving buggies likely to take off in urban environments as part of a fleet of ride-hailing mechanisms, GM’s Chevy Bolts will be ready for those challenges.
The question now is when liking GM take that next step.