If General Motors’ plans continue on pace, its first fully autonomous cars could be in limited use by a partnering car sharing service in five years, and on sale to consumers within 10.
This is according to Mark Reuss, head of global product development, who spoke last week at an automotive cybersecurity conference in Detroit.
Reuss said the first fully autonomous cars could be used by Lyft, in which GM invested $500 million in January, and in half a decade they may be roving in limited geographic areas.
Last May the Wall Street Journal said the automaker and Lyft could begin testing self-driving EVs before the end of the year, and Reuss’ word adds dimension to the technology GM says could be here sooner than some think.
It is likely the first vehicle used for testing will be the Chevrolet Bolt battery electric car due to arrive near the end of the year.
At the same conference, GM Chairwoman and CEO Mary Barra said she believes the autonomous guidelines the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is preparing will likely require a driver to be present in self-driving vehicles as a safety precaution.
“We believe that they will start with a safety driver in the vehicle, which I think provides that extra layer of attention as we not only prove and validate the technology, but then demonstrate to consumers the safety of technology,” Barra said. “I think the framework will work.”
GM’s first step towards self-driving vehicles will be its Super Cruise semi-autonomous technology expected on the Cadillac CT6 in the near future.
Previously, Super Cruise was scheduled to debut on the 2017 CT6, but in January it was delayed for an unspecified reason.
Despite the delay, Barra said she believes the technology will benefit drivers.
“Super Cruise is a technology that we have invested thousands and thousands of man-hours developing and validating. And it has all the requirements that will be met from a federal motor vehicle safety standards perspective,” she said. “We feel very confident that when we launch it next year that it will be something that assists the driver.”
Reuss said he and colleagues tested Super Cruise at GM’s Milford Proving grounds but didn’t give a specific date when it would be available.
GM is prepared to delay the technology again if necessary.
“We’ll put it out there when it’s ready,” Reuss said.