Cruise Automation wants to make self-driving cars in New York City a reality as soon as 2018. The self-driving car wing of General Motors has announced plans to test Chevy Bolts in an area of Manhattan spanning five square miles, beginning as early as next year. Previously, the company has evaluated how its vehicles perform in an urban setting by testing them out on the streets of San Francisco.
General Motors is still a car company, at least for now. "Our core business will be the core for a very very long time," CEO Mary Barra said today at the WIRED Business Conference in New York. That business is making personal vehicles that people drive and own, with a focus on trucks, SUVs, and middle America. But it's hardly exclusive, and in the past six months General Motors has made a series of bold, future-facing moves to cash in on what Barra calls "an accretive opportunity"--a chance to add some apple flesh around the steady core. The Detroit giant invested half-a-billion dollars in Lyft, with plans to build a fleet of self-driving cars.
Microsoft is investing in General Motors' self-driving subsidiary Cruise. In return, Cruise and GM are touting Azure as their "preferred" (though not exclusive) cloud vendor. According to the January 19 press release about the deal, Cruise will use Azure for its autonomous vehicle solutions. GM will work with Microsoft on collaboration, storage, AI and machine learning, as well as on digital-supply chain, productivity and mobility services. And Microsoft will join GM, Honda and institutional investors in a combined, new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise.
To judge by recent claims, "fully autonomous" self-driving technology is just around the corner. Uber Technologies Inc. is offering Pittsburgh residents rides in autonomous Ford Fusions. Ford Motor Co. F -0.08 %, BMW AG BMW -0.90 %, Volvo Car Corp. and Lyft Inc. say they will produce fully autonomous vehicles by 2021 or sooner. Tesla Motors Inc. TSLA 0.49 % Chief Executive Elon Musk, rarely topped in hyperbole, says the technology will be here within 24 months. To many industry insiders, these claims are largely hype.
By Riki Ozawa / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterAutomated cars are classified into four levels based on how much the driver is involved in the operation of the accelerator, brakes and steering. The ranks range from Level 1 -- in which one of the operations is automated -- to Level 4 -- in which a car is fully autonomous and can operate without a human driver. Most domestic and overseas car manufacturers are at Level 2, with Tesla Motors Inc.'s Model S also in this category. Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and other major domestic carmakers have been putting work into the research and development process, aiming to market automated cars that can run on expressways by around 2020. The manufacturers are aiming to reach Level 3, in which a self-driving system mainly operates the car and the driver takes the necessary actions only in case of emergency, such as when the system malfunctions.