General Motors and Lyft will reportedly begin testing self-driving Chevrolet Bolt taxis on public roads within a year.
The autonomous-testing program, reported today by The Wall Street Journal, will make use of technology developed by Cruise Automation Inc., the self-driving technology startup GM plans to buy for $1 billion.
The move comes after GM in January invested $500 million in Lyft, a ride-sharing company, in a bid to keep up with the drastic changes in transportation technology that threaten to undercut automakers’ traditional business models. Tech companies including Google have invested heavily in self-driving technology, as has Lyft rival Uber.
In a statement, GM declined to confirm the report, while saying it “continues to make progress” on its goal of building an “integrated on-demand autonomous network” with Lyft.
“Similarly, we have said the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the ideal platform for ride sharing solutions,” GM said in the statement. “We believe electrification blends perfectly with autonomy when it comes to technology integration.”
A request for comment from Lyft was not immediately returned.
The report says GM hopes to use Lyft drivers as a “primary customer” for the Bolt when it goes on sale this year. That could help spur sales figures for the Bolt as demand for electric vehicles lags this year in the wake of cheap gasoline and the popularity of pickups and SUVs. GM already lends the Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover to Lyft drivers in Chicago.
Details on the testing program are still being worked out, according to the report, though customers in an unnamed city will have the chance to hail a self-driving Bolt should they opt into the program.
Lyft hopes to eventually phase out drivers, though it will keep them in autonomous vehicles at first to address regulatory concerns, the Journal said.
“We will want to vet the autonomous tech between Cruise, GM and ourselves and slowly introduce this to markets,” Lyft Product Director Taggart Matthiesen said in the Journal report.
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