GM be­gins test­ing au­ton­o­mous cars on Michi­gan pub­lic roads

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

DETROIT:

Gen­eral Mo­tors has started test­ing fully au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles on pub­lic roads around its tech­ni­cal cen­ter in sub­ur­ban Detroit.

The an­nounce­ment comes just one week af­ter Gov. Rick Sny­der signed leg­is­la­tion that al­lows the cars to be tested on pub­lic roads with­out a driver or a steer­ing wheel. But the au­tomaker says that for now, it will have hu­man backup driv­ers for its fleet of au­ton­o­mous Chevro­let Bolt elec­tric cars.

Test­ing started Thurs­day on roads near the tech cen­ter in War­ren, Michi­gan. The Bolts will soon move to the en­tire Detroit metro area, which will serve as the com­pany’s main test­ing cen­ter for snowy and cold weather.

Weather is one of the big­gest ob­sta­cles to au­ton­o­mous cars be­cause snow can stop cam­eras and other sen­sors from spot­ting crit­i­cal things such as lane lines and traf­fic sig­nals. GM’s other pub­lic-road test­ing sites are in warm cli­mates: San Francisco and Scotts­dale, Ari­zona. Cur­rently it’s run­ning about 40 au­ton­o­mous Bolts in tests.

CEO Mary Barra also an­nounced Thurs­day that GM will build an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of fully au­ton­o­mous Bolts on the as­sem­bly line where reg­u­lar Bolts are made, in or­der to gain ex­per­tise in build­ing au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles.

The Bolt, which went on sale in Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon this week, can go 238 miles on a sin­gle charge and costs about $30,000 when a $7,500 fed­eral tax credit is fac­tored in. Au­ton­o­mous Bolts, which have dis­tinc­tive spin­ning laser tow­ers on their roofs, will come off the as­sem­bly line in Orion Town­ship north of Detroit start­ing next year.

GM had been test­ing au­ton­o­mous Bolts on the sprawl­ing tech­ni­cal cen­ter grounds for the past few weeks, but wanted to move to pub­lic roads soon af­ter the law be­came ef­fec­tive to take ad­van­tage of weather.

“There’s so much com­plex­ity on pub­lic roads,” said Doug Parks, the com­pany’s vice pres­i­dent of au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle en­gi­neer­ing. “We’re try­ing to pre­pare for ev­ery dif­fer­ent kind of fail­ure mode.” Ex­ec­u­tives wouldn’t say when GM would start test­ing with­out a hu­man driver, but pre­dicted it would be within a cou­ple of years. GM also wants to start run­ning a fleet of au­ton­o­mous taxis that could be sum­moned by pas­sen­gers and is al­lowed un­der the new Michi­gan law. — AP

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