Chevrolet Bolt EV Out Autonomously “Cruise”ing San Francisco Streets

Chevrolet Bolt

NOV 1 2016 BY JAY COLE 51

For most in North America, seeing a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV out zipping around on your local street is not an everyday occurrence.  After all, the 238 mile all-electric car is not officially scheduled to arrive until later this year.

Chevrolet Bolt EV at the Sanata Monica ALT Energy Event In September (via Warren M)

Chevrolet Bolt EV at the Sanata Monica ALT Energy Event In September (via Warren M)

However, if you reside in Orion Township/Detroit, Michigan, the Durham Region of Ontario, Canada in San Francisco, California, or in Scottsdale, AZ…you very well could have, as they are all development areas for the car.

And if you have see one in San Francisco (thanks to GM’s acquisition of Cruise Automotion for ~$1 billion dollars this Spring), it was probably out driving autonomously – or at least attempting to.

Such was the case in the above picture snapped yesterday by InsideEVs reader Glen Lym (and props to Glenn for sending it in to us).  In this case, the Bolt EV was out just tooting around behind the Uber and Square headquarters.

One assumes the name “PLATYPUS” emblazoned on the rear bumper, is the identifying symbol for Cruise/GM’s autonomous field testing license.

When will Cruise technology break cover in a public way with the Chevrolet Bolt EV (and possibly in conjunction with GM’s other partner Lyft – of which gets the first allottment of Bolts in December)?  Who knows.

Chevrolet Bolt EV With Cruise Automation Tech

Chevrolet Bolt EV With Cruise Automation Tech

GM President Dan Ammann said of the deal with Cruise Automation, and what led GM to acquire the outfit (via Fortune):

Chevrolet Bolt EV - in production now, arriving in December

Chevrolet Bolt EV – in production now, arriving in December

“Every time we went there (to visit the progress at Cruise) they’d moved along another nine steps.  We were super excited with what the guys there had achieved already technically, but also the caliber of the talent and speed of development.” 

As for what Cruise achieves with GM (besides a boatload of money for its founders), Kyle Vogt (one of those founders) noted:

“If we truly want to do what brought us to work on autonomous vehicles in the first place, we need to do something that is going to achieve scale.  With GM we can build and deploy it at scale. We want to have the highest possible social impact.”

Hat tip to Glenn Lym!

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51 Comments on "Chevrolet Bolt EV Out Autonomously “Cruise”ing San Francisco Streets"

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Hey, where’s Perry???

The Platypus…..getit, phineas and ferb, top pic of the white Bolts name?

Oh there you are, Perry. What do you do all day?

Is this thing driving itself?

It might as well be, I’d never be caught driving one.

Trying to compensate for something? No need to answer we all know the answer is yes…

Sounds like a personal problem.

Hard to fix ugly!

You’d know 🙂

Yep easy to tell you are having issues.

Wow, your come backs are like that of a 10 year old. Mommy and Daddy must be so proud.

I’m not the one who is compensating for something by saying they wouldn’t drive this car 🙂

Such thoughtful comments are why I keep coming to this site. Keep it up!

P.S. The Bolt is ugly-ish, I agree. But I’d still get it if it was larger. I need a larger car to compensate for something.

While you sound like you’re only 9 and a half.

Compensation for my good taste. I could never be seen in something that ugly.

Nor spend my hard earned money on an ugly vehicle. What a waste that’d be.

Might be appropriate rather than a waste. For all we know the Bolt EV is a better looking car than you are a person. Maybe it would object to your being behind the wheel. LOL


Apply cold water directly to burn.

Sad to me that EVs are going autonomous. I like to drive. I guess I should just resign to the inevitable level 5 autonomous (I.e. No option for a human driver) future.

You say you like to drive. Do you like to commute?

Yes, I like my commute. 2.25 miles in each direction, casually driving through my neighborhood. At least during the colder months. When it’s warmer, it’s a nice 10-minute bike ride. Just enough to get the blood pumping without becoming uncomfortably sweaty.

Why not get a warm jacket and keep riding all year?
Especially in cold weather the air quality suffers a lot from ICE pollution when there is little air exchange between the layers.
Until the engine’s warmed up, pollution and fuel comsumption are especially high (far from brochure numbers).
Short distance rides are taking their toll on the engine much more than long distance use (per mile).
There is an increasingly amount of (electric) last mile vehicles on the market which might be an option for many people too.

Call me a wimp, but it hurts my lungs to ride in cold weather. I used to do that in younger days, though. I’d bundle up and take the mountain bike (knobby tires are like snow tires for a bike).

Yes, ICEVs pollute terribly on my winter commute. The engine isn’t even warm by the time I get to work. That’s one more reason I love my Leaf – it doesn’t have that issue. And my wife commutes in her CMax Energi, which can make it to work and back – in temperatures down to the teens – without firing up the ICE.

* Another issue with biking in the winter is safety. With the icy/snowy roads, I am at far greater risk of being hit by a car. Combined with the fact that the drivers are not expecting to see a cyclist in the first place, it’s better not to risk it.

I like to drive sometimes. Sometimes I don’t. Some people like folding laundry and doing dishes. I don’t get it.

I’m with you. I love to drive, even my 15 miles commute. As an assist, with safety as a goal, even with the possibility of 100% autonomy, I think that is a great option to have, but not all the time. I fear that at some point the privilege to drive will be taken away if the technology proves reliable.

On a side note, I don’t get the concept of a high-performance/autonomous car.

Any cars force cruise control? No, so I doubt lvl 5 autonomous driving will be forced.

It will indirectly, by paying higher insurance rates, if you resist implementing safer autonomy.

Rick (no, not that Rick)

Resistance is futile.

Nice one.

(not that Rick either 🙂

I had to look up the various levels of autonomous driving. My understanding of level 5 autonomy was that it does not allow the driver to take control. Am I understanding this wrong?

That is my understanding as well. AIUI, levels 4 and 5 are both fully autonomous, but level 4 still has driving controls, while level 5 does away with them completely.
I would think that we are definitely a couple of decades away from level 5.

I really think in the future there is going to be a hack or a EMP event that causes all the self driving cars to crash off the road.

I’m working on a scene like this in a storyline of mine that takes place as the characters are driving on US Route 1 towards NASA.

In the scene cars go flying across the median head on towards them.

It’s great to see R&D into autonomous driving, but I find it increasingly disturbing to see every auto maker going their own way on this. Making an autonomous car work well enough that it’s safer than human drivers, and hopefully eventually safer by an order of magnitude or more, is a very hard problem to solve. I would much rather see one or more consortiums of auto makers, with several companies in each consortium working together to produce a reliable, fully functional self-driving car.

Competition is great, but there are some things so difficult that it’s better for auto makers to cooperate on, rather than the “every man for himself” approach.

Along those lines, it would make sense to me that cars could ultimately talk to each other, rather than just use sensors.

I believe that’s part of the plan. Has to happen.

Eventually, they all will.
Buy for the next few decades, we’ll have cars on the road without that capability. So for now, the cars have to rely 100% on sensors.

Data collection can enable autonomy, but only if it’s shared across the industry. How do you encourage that sharing?

I want us to have a broader imagination of how data can lift the safety advantages of autonomous cars…..will it be able to communicate and share that data not only with cars of the same type [of car], or a particular manufacturer, but [with] all autonomous vehicles regardless of who made it? That’s one question I think the industry needs to spend time on, because there are issues around propriety of information…. What if, for example, a car… averts an accident by making a particular move? Can that information now be shared among other vehicles?

SAE could weigh in at some point, but we need the Asian companies, and the Tesla’s of the world to play along.

The SAE is already over this.

GM is very involved with developing SAE standards so are probably on-board with evolving a common standard here. Right now, it is so new they are focusing on standard definitions and test procedures, with standardization of hardware, inter-vehicle communications, etc. to follow.

Florida will be so much safer!

This is not an uncommon a sight in San Francisco. That self-driving Uber Ford Focus is running around the too!

We see a fleet of 20 Bolts out running Cruise Automation self driving systems in the Scottsdale AZ area everyday. They seem to do pretty good. Someday they may catch up to Tesla.

SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD

How much full automation is going with Tesla these days? Aside from the cool video that’s highly produced, do they have 20+ driving around gaining full automation experience?

Regardless, GM doing their part

What? You want the Bolts to kill their drivers, too?

Will be interesting to see whether the lidar systems win out over the camera system used by Tesla. Cameras are definitely cheaper, no doubt about that, but lidar is much more granular.

Isn’t Tesla now putting more focus on the radar system vs. the camera system?

I “see” what you did there.


LIDAR is more accurate than RADAR because it senses in three dimensions, but they generate too much data. An intermediate form of sensor is needed, or improved navigation processing.

LIDAR is not “more accurate than RADAR because it senses in 3-dimensions”. They both “sense in 3-dimensions”.

The differences is LIDAR uses a much shorter wavelength signal and THAT is what allows more precise measurements.

I believe Tesla is using RADAR not LIDAR, and they said they will be relying on that data more now vs. the camera system data.

What I’m wondering about which would be kind of funny is. If someone gets wasted a bar and passes out in the driver’s seat of a self driving car. If the car is not programed to go home but keep driving. Would the self driving car if it was on the highway drive a hundred or three miles in one night. And the would be drunk wakes up in another state due to the car driving without him?

If that driver passes out, the car will not even start!