avatarby Nick HallAugust 12, 20160 comments

GM and Lyft could beat Uber and Toyota, as well as Tesla, to the punch with autonomous taxis if the current rumors are to be believed, but GM has firmly denied that it will put autonomous cars into service as early as January 2019.

IEEE ran a story that revealed GM’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings for 725 long-range and 2175 short-range radar units in that month. It assumed, reasonably, that this meant GM would go beyond the test phase and put the Bolt into active service as an autonomous car

After a flurry of stories, GM has since denied that these radars will be mounted on actual cars and said this is not the sign of an automated fleet. IEEE has since printed a retraction.

This deal with Lyft has wings

There is no doubt, though, that the Detroit company has come out fighting in recent months and this partnership with Lyft has a lot of potential.

Lyft has been left behind by Uber, but if it wins the war to get autonomous taxis on the streets first then the whole complexion of the taxi business and indeed self-driving technology could change overnight.

GM should rock the EV establishment when it brings the Bolt to market at the end of this year. This new car will cover 200 miles between charges and will turn GM into a major player and a potential rival for Tesla.

Chevy Bolt and Lyft won't start in Jan 2019

GM ploughing big money into autonomous taxis

The automotive giant has invested $500 million in the private hire company that is instantly recognizable by the pink moustache. The autonomous driving system, though, is another thing entirely and if GM can crack both technologies together than the whole EV landscape could be turned upside down.

While Tesla grabs the majority of the headlines with an Autopilot system that is already at Level 4, a huge number of companies are working on autonomous systems. Virtually every major car company is focused on their own autonomous systems and GM has worked on its own for years.

Now, though, the Detroit company has gone very public with its bid to be the first for full autonomous control. The combination with Lyft could justify all its hard work.

Cruise is the missing piece in the puzzle

The missing piece in the puzzle is the purchase of Cruise Automation Inc. Now GM has taken control of this San Francisco-based company and is already out testing on the public road in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona.

Phoenix is fast establishing itself as a center for testing autonomous technology and Google is also testing in the region. Autonomous testing is inherently risky, but Arizona State has taken a conscious decision to support the self-driving tech industry. In 2015 Gov Doug Ducey passed an executive order supporting the testing and operation of automated vehicles on public roads.

As well as the state approval, GM also required a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) green light and that, apparently, is not coming in the first month of 2019.

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