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GM set for robo-taxi service in 2019

By Tim Sandle     Dec 5, 2017 in Technology
San Fransisco - Car manufacturer General Motors has announced plans for self-driving vehicles to act as taxis to appear in key U.S. cities and suburbs in 2019. The cost of these vehicles is relatively low, at around $30,000, offering high returns for investors.
The news from General Motors comes after the Google company Waymo stated that its self-driving cars would shortly be appearing as a robo-taxi service in Arizona, as reported on Digital Journal.
General Motors are already operating self-driving Chevy Bolts in San Francisco as part of a pilot scheme. This is operated through a subsidiary company called Cruise Automation. These vehicles are Bolt EV electric cars. Green Car reports that the customer experience is mixed, with some describing the journey are ‘jerky’, which is a factor of the safety features built into the computerized system.
The General Motors announcement was made by the company’s President Dan Ammann. In a statement to CNBC Ammann emphasized that General Motors is making rapid progress in terms of safely operating self-driving cars in complex urban environments, adding that the technology "will continually and rapidly improve once it's launched."
The car manufacturer also unveiled the financial strategy. Putting the typical cost of the self-driving vehicles at $30,000 it was stated that each could potentially generate revenue of several hundred thousand dollars, when used for taxi services.
GM's Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens spoke with Smart2Zero about the project. Stevens outlined that the planned service will be 40 percent lower in costs compared with human driver operated ride-hailing services. In terms of taxi operating costs this means reducing the cost to less than $1 per mile by 2025 compared with the typical cost of $2.50 today. This means margins of 20 to 30 percent.
In terms of vehicle production, the cost of long-range LiDAR sensors used for the self-driving vehicles could fall to as low as to $300, down from $20,000, across an equivalent period. General Motors uses technology from the LiDAR company Strobe Inc., which it purchased earlier this year.
The importance of LiDAR, which is interestingly a technology not being used by rivals Tesla, was emphasized by Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, who told Clean Technica: “When used together, cameras, LIDARs, and RADARs can complement each other to create a robust and fault-tolerant sensing suite that operates in a wide range of environmental and lighting conditions.” LiDAR is central to General Motors self-driving taxi service plans.
More about Robotic taxis, selfdriving, autonomous cars, Taxis
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