General Motors President Dan Ammann made a rather bold statement today: In less than two years, autonomous Chevy Bolts will be driving around busy city streets.
“If we continue on our current rate of change, we will be ready to deploy this technology in large scale in the most complex environments in 2019,” Ammann said at a press and investor event in San Francisco, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
To help realize its driverless dreams, General Motors purchased the autonomous driving company Cruise Automation in 2016, and there are now some 1,200 GM employees working in the auto manufacturer’s self-driving division.
This automated technology is being built into the Chevy Bolt, which is the company’s affordably priced (around $30,000) all-electric vehicle. For the month of October, the Bolt even eclipsed the Tesla Model S as the most sold all-electric vehicle in the U.S. (however, Tesla still leads in sales for the year).
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are about 100 test Bolts (with a human inside) already driving autonomously around crowded San Francisco — a challenging environment considering the bustling streets rife with avid bikers, trolleys, and traffic.
“This product will continuously get better from the moment it’s launched. The more you use it, the better it will get,” Ammann said at the event.
GM isn’t the only player in the game. Ford has plans to produce road-ready cars — without steering wheels or pedals — by 2021. Perhaps GM’s stiffest competition comes from Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Last week, Waymo announced that it had accumulated 4 million self-driving miles on the road.
But by 2019 — if GM sticks to its ambitious schedule — its all-electric Bolts will be driver-free, and perhaps driving around hilly San Francisco.