There Will Be “Thousands” of Self-Driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs in 2018

9 months ago by Mark Kane 32

Autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV

While GM’s current self-driving test fleet consists of ~40 odd Chevrolet Bolt EVs in San Francisco, California and Scottsdale, Arizona (and adding Detroit later this year), the company intends to increase that scale by two orders of magnitude.

According to Reuters, GM plans to build, test thousands of self-driving Bolts in 2018.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra shows autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV

Those vehicles, called Bolt AV (autonomous vehicle) are to be used by ride-sharing Lyft, while there is no plan to sell AVs publicly in near-term:

“It is expected to be the largest such test of fully autonomous vehicles by any major automaker before 2020, when several companies have said they plan to begin building and deploying such vehicles in higher volumes. Alphabet Inc’s Waymo subsidiary, in comparison, is currently testing about 60 self-driving prototypes in four states.

Most of the specially equipped versions of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle will be used by San Francisco-based Lyft, which will test them in its ride-sharing fleet in several states, one of the sources said. GM has no immediate plans to sell the Bolt AV to individual customers, according to the source.

The sources spoke only on condition of anonymity because GM has not announced its plans yet.”

Autonomous Chevy Bolt EV out testing in San Francisco (via Glenn L)

The cost of early Bolt AVs are estimted at “six figures“, so it would need to be a workhorse to pay off.

These automous Bolt AVs are planned for production in early 2017 at GM’s Orion, Michigan plant.

GM executive Mike Ableson told Reuters in a November interview:

“If you assume the cost of these autonomous vehicles, the very early ones, will be six figures, there aren’t very many retail customers that are willing to go out and spend that kind of money,” Ableson said. “But even at that sort of cost, with a ride sharing platform, you can build a business.”

source: Reuters

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32 responses to "There Will Be “Thousands” of Self-Driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs in 2018"

  1. SparkEV says:

    All I need is a car that could drive itself in freeway traffic jam. It doesn’t have to drive to any particular place, and doesn’t have to deal with city (traffic lights, pedestrians). Just tell me when the exit is near or if there’s unusual situation so I can wake up from my nap and take over. Is that so hard?

    1. GeorgeS says:

      Spark,
      Then go buy a cpo tesla. 2014 was the first year they had AP

      1. SparkEV says:

        Personally, I’m waiting for Tesla 3 with AP. But I was referring to this article and Bolt. I’m sure a lot of people feel like I do. Instead of trying to do 100% of driving, taking drudgery out of driving is lot easier, cheaper, and very useful. It’s like having 90% (or more) of self-driving usability with only 10% (or less) of implementation effort.

          1. SparkEV says:

            That only applies if you want 100% fool proof automation even in limited scope. What I’m asking is wake me up if there’s any problem. Braking in case of emergency is not difficult, automation or human.

            1. Kdawg says:

              Tesla AP requires you to be awake & paying attention. No sleeping.

              1. SparkEV says:

                For now. We’ll see when Tesla 3 is out in 2 years. Yes, they will be late, despite what some say. And, I will wait at least a year (or two) before getting one for them to shake out the bugs. By that time, I should be able to nap in the car.

                1. Kdawg says:

                  That would be level 5 autonomy. I don’t think that is in Tesla’s 2 year plan. Technology aside, there’s still the legislation.

        1. LWS says:

          AP Bolts will not be sold to the public.

    2. Ocean Railroader says:

      I really don’t think someone being a sleep at the wheel of a 2000 pound wheeled object going 75 miles on hour is such a good idea especially around hundreds of other 2000 pound objects.

      They have automatic driving trains and airplanes but the drivers of those things are not allowed to sleep while they are steering it.

      If I had a self driving car I would want to be awake while being in the driver’s seat of it.

  2. Dav8or says:

    What is the point of this autonomous Lyft nonsense? I seriously doubt they are going to have these autonomous cars running around the City with no “driver” at the wheel. So they’re spending six figures per car to get rid of the driver, only he/she will still need to be there. How does this make ANY sense?

    Even if they achieve their goal of eliminating one more job in the workplace so that Lyft can keep all the money for themselves, how many customers are going to be willing to sit in the back and have “Otto” do the driving? That will take some getting used to.

    Then there’s the day when there is crash with injuries. It will happen for sure. It very well may not be the fault of the automatic car, but with such deep pockets, there will be lawsuits anyhow. How does any of this make sense as a business model?

    Like Spark posted above, all I want is an autopilot that I can switch on on the 580 in Oakland and have it take me to the exit in LA that I want to get off on and I take over. The other thing I want it to do is take over in slow speed bumper to bumper traffic jams. Let me do something else while we crawl along. That’s it.

    Why the rush to eliminate the driver? Particularly the professional driver when we need more jobs, not less.

    1. Nick says:

      Saving jobs did the sake of saving jobs is silly. We should consider something like universal basic income instead.

      1. Dav8or says:

        Why? People need to work. It’s what people do. We already have universal basic income. It used to be called welfare. It hasn’t solved any problems, only created them.

        1. SJC says:

          People should work in value added jobs that use the intellect. We design, manufacture, program and maintain the automated tools.

          1. Ocean Railroader says:

            Not everyone can be a rocket scientist I tried applying for a internship at NASA but they wanted nothing to do with me due to my GPA being below a A plus.

          2. Dav8or says:

            You do realize that robots can design, manufacture, program and maintain the automated tools, right? At some point 4-5 people could run an entire car factory.

        2. GuyMan says:

          Perhaps we should go back to the horse, and the manual plow. Not leveraging technology to “save jobs” isn’t how capitalism works. UBI is a interesting concept, and I think Norway or Sweden is doing some trial here, I have no idea how it will work out, but should be interesting to see the results and I don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand.

          Mankind’s has used technology and energy sources to great effect to improve the efficency of the species, and given population growth, that’s pretty much required if we plan to feed people (one can argue about the impact to the biosphere, but that’s a different debate)

          Not leveraging “labor savings” devices, is the reason we don’t still build roads and skyscrapers like they used to build the pyramids. – The “older approach” certainly used a lot more human labor. 😉

          1. Dav8or says:

            “Not leveraging technology to “save jobs” isn’t how capitalism works. UBI is a interesting concept, and I think Norway or Sweden is doing some trial here, I have no idea how it will work out, but should be interesting to see the results and I don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand.”

            UBI isn’t capitalism either. You’ll feel different about the glorious robots when your job is lost to a machine and it’s tough to find another. I personally don’t care all that much for me as I’m close enough to retirement and have my money in order. I just fear a little for the future of the world, but there again I don’t care all that much because we don’t have any kids.

            1. Asak says:

              The point is you can’t stop automation. The question is, are we going to allow those who currently own everything to pocket all the money, and leave a growing percentage of the people out on the street. Or are we going to say, OK you need to give something back to support all those who have been displaced. We can’t have a society with 25% unemployment because robots are doing 20% of the work. It will be a huge disruption but it’s not going to be stopped.

        3. Asak says:

          Are you serious? Welfare hasn’t solved ANY problems? You know, other than people starving when things got tough.

          Basic income is an interesting idea because it eliminates the need to have a bunch of different safety nets. No one is guaranteed a great life, but they’re guaranteed enough to get by. It would help everyone, even those with jobs, in case they happen to lose it.

          This country is far from implementing basic income unfortunately. Those in power right now would rather go back to times when poor people starved to death, all so billionaires can have that much more.

          1. SparkEV says:

            If you’re talking about basic housing and food, bare minimum needed for day to day existence, current welfare program provides that. But when you consider raising a family of four in “decent” environment (ie, lots of toys and cars and house) and health care, it’s far from adequate.

            This is why I object to “living wage” movement. Current minimum wage is much more than living wage for many people. $15/hr is far from adequate as “living wage” for a family of four, especially since mom needs to stay home with kids (daycare is too expensive).

            In essence, $15/hr does nothing but kill low end jobs initially, and increase inflation in the long run. Once inflation made everything more expensive, there will be yet another cry for “living wage” to be higher. Maybe even for $150/hr due to inflation.

            Meanwhile, middle class savers who had their money in the bank (ie, not tracking inflation) will see their savings erode away. The rich wouldn’t care since their investments track / do better than inflation.

      2. Ocean Railroader says:

        I have a major part of a science fiction book I’m working on were the leaders of a alien race called the Gull Coo pass laws to make sure that everyone has a job even if they only work two days a week.

        The main character in the book only works two days a week but her job is fun.

        The reason why the government leaders make sure everyone has a job even if it’s only two days a week to to make sure they feel connected to the technologically advanced society as a whole.

        The people in the story line who don’t have jobs due to automation develop a disturbing mentally were they feel that money and the technological crap that comes with them means nothing to them. In that the bulk of the unemployed population prefer to become hunter gathers living off there land claims.

        Basically you have stores full of stuff but no one buys it anymore.

    2. jhm614 says:

      I think testing is the point. You train the Lyft drivers to be test drivers and then you cover thousands and thousands of miles in the AVs

    3. GuyMan says:

      Being a professional driver, is up there with being a coal miner in terms of job security. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when, professional drivers will have the same employment potential as carriage footman.

      I personally don’t think this will all happen by 2020, but by 2030 or so, self driving cars will be the majority (IMHO). There are simply to many advantages to this approach for this to not happen.

      So expecting automation to “stop” or not be deployed, to save jobs, it’s not going to happen. – Look at robots in manufacturing. By the way, most US manufacturing jobs haven’t been lost to manufacturing overseas, most of them have been lost to automation.. To expect this trend to not be repeated in “professional drivers” is missing an obvious trend.

      An interesting side-effect, will be the effect on regional airlines, which I expect to be fairly negative. Long haul, international stuff will stay, but why fly <500 miles, when the car can drive itself overnight, while I sleep in the back.

      As for why get rid of the driver, the safety improvements alone will be significant – there are 35K traffic fatalities annually in the US alone – That's like 25% of all the accidental deaths in US are due to automobiles, and a LARGE % of that is driver error (or driving while impaired).

      I for one can't wait for level 5 autonomous driving systems, but as I said, I don't expect us to get there as fast as Elon does, but I definitely see the trend as fairly unstoppable at this point..

      If I was a truck driver, it's definitely time to start taking programming classes at UCademy. Not a pleasant future for Uber or Lyft drivers, but the "writing on the wall" is fairly obvious at this point. It's not like the testing they are doing is a secret.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        What I can say is I find the idea of a smart thermostat stupid along with a smart figure in that I have been seeing a lot of programs how easy these things are to hack.

        I’m currently working on a chain of artworks that will show how a fully automated and autonomous society that has become too dependent on automaton can be over thrown with in a day.

        The reason why I’m mentioning this is I plan to show a scene were tens of thousands of self driving cars start crashing off of the highways of the planet when the invasion starts.

        The Invaders that doe this don’t really have to fire off a shot unless they want to have some fun.

      2. Asak says:

        To be fair, Uber and Left jobs are pretty much crap anyway. They are basically being exploited by those companies and probably earning below minimum wage when you consider wear and tear on their vehicles.

  3. ffbj says:

    Early results have been shown to be mixed, when forced to deal with unusual situations:

    1. Dav8or says:

      Thanks for the reference! I’ve been calling these Lyft cars and the Google cars Johnny Cabs for quite awhile now. Not everybody gets it.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        I was thinking of that scene in the movie were he was yelling at it to drive.

  4. DL says:

    It used to be that if you saw a vehicle driving erratically you suspected the driver was drunk, now you mostly suspect they are and Uber or Lyft driver; particularly one searching for their fare. Frankly I can’t wait to get rid of them.

  5. Erin Downey says:

    I have a seizure disorder and I am no longer able to drive. A fully automated car and driver would be great. Another group that would be glad for this assistance are the elderly and the disabled. Maybe even Mom’s & Dad’s who need help getting their kids to all their scheduled after school activities. I would greatly appreciate having the option so I can get out and go places. My husband has to take time off work to take me to doctor appointments, etc. There are segments of the population that would love this option, I for one am looking forward to it.