GM announced that it will be introducing driverless cars before the end of next year. The first model from General Motors to have a completely autonomous steering and navigation system will be the Chevrolet Volt.
GM surprised the automotive world by announcing it has nearly perfected the driverless cars. Needless to say, the announcement must have been a mighty jolt to tech companies like Google, Apple, and any other company that has been slogging to launch driverless cars.
Though the first vehicle that will feature driverless technology will be ready as soon as next year, the initial batch of GM's autonomous Chevrolet Volts won't be available in showrooms for eager car buyers. The company confirmed that a whole fleet of the fully autonomous Chevrolet Volts will first be deployed on its Warren Technical Center campus for employee use. Perhaps the company wants to work out all the kinks, before it deems the cars fit to be driven or ferry people without any assistance on freeways, indicated Mark Reuss, GM's product development chief.
"No one has solved all the technical challenges or claimed outright leadership. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to lead."Besides the driverless cars, the company also offered a sneak peek of a concept electric bicycle. The company says it is committed to offer alternative mobility options to its customers that will simplify their life, reported Detroit Free Press. The company is confident that it will be able to produce a fuel-cell vehicle ready for mass production, as early as in 2020. GM has been working on a joint fuel-cell development program with Honda and given the Japanese tech giant's rapid strides in fuel-cell technology, GM might already have a crude prototype ready.
Apart from technological advancements, GM also announced a New York City ride-sharing project, which will see collaborative transport and real-time parking assistance based on the intelligence data obtained from the vehicles. Those participating in the program would be able to reserve multi-seater SUVs and park them in any of the 200 garages in Manhattan. Talking about the endeavors, GM's CEO Mary Barra explained the company's hopes.
"We're working to redefine customer's choices and the future of mobility. The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is creating an inflection point for the transportation industry not seen in decades."Speaking about intelligence data, the company's confidence is quite justified based on the advancements already found in today's cars. GM says it has millions of its cars currently plying on the road, which are already intrinsically connected to the internet. The company claims its engineers are already developing newer technologies that will eventually aide in seamless, autonomous, transport vehicles.
Explaining what newer technologies meant, Reuss said that GM and its technology partners are working to develop enhanced sensor technology that can work in extreme weather conditions like heavy fog or ice patches. GM is also tweaking Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will be able to reliably predict driver behavior and prepare for real-world problems, reported Fox News.
The Chevrolet Volt from the stables of GM is an ideal vehicle for imparting driverless capabilities. The smart hybrid car can stretch a fully-charged battery for about 40 miles, before the engine decides to fall-back to the gasoline powered generator. Moreover, GM has promised Chevrolet Bolt, a true all-electric car with a staggering 200-mile range before 2016 is out.
Google has been making some noticeable progress in driverless car technology, but the first truly autonomous car that Google launched looks more like a bulbous pod. GM on the other hand, has been making sleek looking cars for over 100 years.
Which company do you think will win the customers with their driverless cars?
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