Self-Driving Chevrolet Bolt Fleet To Become World’s Largest By Next Month

Chevrolet Bolt


Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) show that General Motors plans to significantly increase its self-driving Chevrolet Bolt fleet.

Waymo currently claims the lead in the autonomous fleet race, with about 80 of its vehicles deployed around the U.S. In the next month or so, GM and Cruise Automation will add new radars to at least 300 self-driving Bolts in Detroit, San Francisco, and Scottsdale, Arizona. This will make the autonomous Chevrolet Bolt fleet not only the largest of its kind in the U.S., but also globally.

GM has over 50 self-driving Bolts spread between the three cities thus far. As for the other 27 companies with self-driving cars on public roads in California, the total number is around 89.

Chevrolet Bolt

Autonomous Chevrolet Bolt out driving

IEEE Spectrum received news of this story somewhat indirectly, however, the details add up nicely. To use a radio frequency that’s not approved by the FCC, companies have to apply for a Special Temporary Authority (STA).  Japanese Supplier, Alps Electric, recently applied for clearance to test 3,000 of its new Ukaza experimental radars. Alps engineer John Cabigao explained:

“The need for 3000 units is for testing and continuing development of the radar for vehicle use. As this type of automotive product does not yet exist in the market for public consumption, there are [sic] a lot of experimentation and testing that needs to be done on our side and with our customer to continue development.”

“Each vehicle will have 10 units so that [the] total number of vehicles tested is only 300.”

Cabigao did not share which company would be testing the 300 vehicles. But, 10 days later, GM filed a mirror STA for use of the Ukaza radar. Even more interesting is that GM asked that the official number of units requested be removed from the FCC report. GM engineer Robert Reagan III wrote in the filing:

“The number of units involved in the experiment can convey business sensitive information to competitors regarding future plans for services and technologies that have not yet been fully developed.”

To further prove IEEE’s seemingly obvious discovery, the publication researched Reagan’s LinkedIn page. It explains that the engineer’s work is to:

“Ensure that our parts can do what they need to do and arrive at the assembly plant on time. For now, those parts are the radar sensors on the Chevrolet Bolt Autonomous Vehicle.”

All of this information applies to the Ukaza short-range radar, though the story doesn’t end here. GM applied for the same type of FCC clearance for a medium-range radar supplied by Bosch. Initially, this radar would go in 162 vehicles, based on the information that IEEE obtained. Bosch didn’t admit that the radars were for the Chevrolet Bolt, but did indirectly verify the three testing cities by geographical location.

If all vehicles will have the Ukaza short-range radar, and some of the fleet will employ the Bosch medium-range radar as an addition, then 300 autonomous Bolts is the target number. Although if 162 separate Bolts will be tested with the Bosch radar, against another 300 with the Ukaza equipment, then this number could actually be 462 self-driving Chevys.

The FCC still has to move forward in approving the STA requests, which is expected to happen prior to next month.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

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8 Comments on "Self-Driving Chevrolet Bolt Fleet To Become World’s Largest By Next Month"

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That’s some good sleuthing. In addition to the 80 prototype and Lexus RXs Waymo has had for a while, they recently took delivery of 100 Chrysler Pacficas and are rumored to have orders 100 more.

300-ish self driving cars is not an R&D fleet, it’s a beta test. I’m confident both comapanies plan to put these cars into service. They’ll have a driver at first, but with a plan to move to remote monitoring.

GM will just use Lyft. Waymo is the more interesting case. They have no existing ride-hailing network and Uber is the enemy. They either need many more cars or a city small enough for ~200 vans to cover. So few cars in a big city would have poor availability and long wait times.

I predict Waymo deploys in a college town this fall.

Uh, the headline is a bit ambiguous. World’s largest Chevrolet Bolt self-driving fleet? World’s largest self-driving fleet?

What constitutes a fleet? Single ownership? Is this a car-sharing service or taxi fleet? I think every Tesla off the factory since last October was it? had the Autopilot 2.0 hardware. They are building >2000 units a week.
Again, depends on the definition of “world’s largest fleet” here.

“I think every Tesla off the factory since last October was it? had the Autopilot 2.0 hardware. They are building >2000 units a week. “Again, depends on the definition of ‘world’s largest fleet’ here.” Exactly. What “fleet” is the largest depends on how you define “self-driving”. Those Waymo cars that don’t have a steering wheel… I’ll concede those are fully autonomous, altho my understanding is those are (or at least were) restricted to low speeds and can’t deal with certain conditions such as some bridges. But if they have to have a person sitting in the driver’s seat ready to take over if and when the autonomous driving system fails, then the car ain’t fully self-driving, despite what anyone may claim. It’s exciting to see rapid advancement in autonomous driving, but I think some companies — certainly including Tesla — are getting out further and further over their skis in claiming that they’ll have fully autonomous vehicles in just a year or two. If it can’t drive on all public roads, including bridges, paved roads with no lane markings, and even unpaved county roads, then don’t try to tell me it’s “fully autonomous”. If it can’t reach that goal, then… Read more »

Hmmm, I see I contradicted myself. Are those Waymo cars which have no steering wheel, but can’t drive on some bridges, fully autonomous or not?

Well, perhaps a better term would be “fully functional autonomy”, which those Waymo cars don’t have.

I don’t think Tesla has very many self driving cars.

Tube fanbois keep changing definitions to suit their fantasies

I can only surmise if those test Bolts have better front seats than the crappy ones sold to us so far.

Also, Tesla logged and has databased a billion(?) self driving miles so far. So, who has that largest self-driving fleet?

This should help those having trouble with the definition of “fleet”.

Fleet vehicles are groups of motor vehicles owned or leased by a business, government agency or other organization rather than by an individual or family. Typical examples are vehicles operated by car rental companies, taxicab companies, public utilities, public bus companies, and police departments.