General Motors has announced its plans to launch a self-driving taxi service by 2019. The automobile manufacturer has been making a big push towards electric vehicles in recent history, with up to 25 new electric models set to be released by 2023, two of which will come next year. Today, GM's executives announced similar plans to those of Telsa, whereby the autonomous capabilities of its future electric vehicles will be the basis of a self-driving ride-sharing taxi fleet.
Until now, GM's autonomous vehicles have been limited to the streets of San Francisco, but the company has confirmed plans to expand this across the US with the goal of launching a currently-unbranded commercial autonomous taxi service. Recently the company acquired Strobe in the hope of creating better LIDAR sensors for their vehicles and, according to GM, if development continues at the current pace of progress, the company will be ready to deploy its technology in as little as two years time. Nonetheless, executives did note that safety would be the ultimate factor in determining a launch date for the fleet. General Motors believes that it has an advantage over the competition thanks to its manufacturing potential, however, which should help drive down costs. Currently, its main rivals Uber and Waymo have invested billions into their self-driving technologies but rely on third-party companies to provide test vehicles. Uber, on the one hand, has announced plans to purchase 24,000 self-driving Volvo cars between 2019 and 2021, while Google's Waymo, on the other hand, currently utilizes Chrysler minivans in order to test its technology. Another rival, Tesla, has experience in the manufacturing sector but is still struggling to reach mass-market numbers, while its autonomous technology isn't as advanced as the competitions.
The Detroit-based company is betting heavily on autonomous electric vehicles and expects its future taxi fleet to eventually become more profitable than its current business. After all, fleet vehicles guarantee a constant stream of income throughout a much longer period of time versus the initial sale price of traditional automobiles that its business is currently based on. Despite all of these plans, General Motors is yet to officially confirm which cities will be the first to receive their autonomous vehicles, though San Francisco and New York will likely be the first due to initial testing taking place there.