GM and Lyft have had a standing deal to collaborate on self-driving car technology for over a year now, with few results for consumers. However, that’s all about to change next year when the two companies are reportedly looking to test the largest fleet of autonomous vehicles (AVs) yet, numbering in the thousands.
According to a report from Reuters, quoting two sources from inside GM, the automaker is looking at aggressively rolling out test fleets for its self-driving car tech starting next year. The company, which is currently testing about 60 Chevy Bolt prototype AVs, wants to bump that number up significantly, in 2018. The high cost of custom manufacturing this original fleet will in large part be borne by Lyft, the second largest ride-sharing service in the US, after Uber.
An autonomous Chevy Bolt driving through San Francisco
Lyft will test out the autonomous vehicles through its business network in a number of states, much like Uber has already started doing in various cities around the world. However, Lyft and GM’s combined efforts, if these sources are accurate, will form the largest test fleet of AVs in the world, dwarfing efforts by other rivals. Google’s AV company, Waymo, is only currently testing about 60 prototype vehicles. Meanwhile, Ford said it plans to ramp up AV production by 2020. Perhaps Tesla, which tests self-driving software on partially-autonomous vehicles, and has announced its new vehicles will be designed for full autonomy, is the only other comparable example.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to buy a Chevy Bolt AV anytime soon. According to the sources being quoted, and past public announcements by GM, the company doesn’t plan on selling Bolt AVs to consumers in 2018. It very much looks like mass market penetration won’t get underway until the early twenties. However, this rumored test fleet could be a large step forward in that direction.