General Motors (GM) is arguably one of America's most-recognized car brands. With a strong existing identity in traditional vehicles, GM is working on several fronts to stay up-to-date on the race to produce self-driving cars. In March of 2016, GM announced it was purchasing Cruise Automation, a software company that focuses entirely on autonomous driving technology. (See more information at http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/03/11/general-motors-buys-self-driving-car-software-company/81634822/). In August 2016, Cruise Automation announced that it would be testing its autonomous technology in Scottsdale, Arizona on Chevrolet Bolts. Like other companies testing self-driving technology, GM is utilizing the friendly environment in Arizona to begin its initial technology testing.
GM has also invested in and partnered with Lyft, a prominent ride-sharing company with a large footprint in self-driving technology development. This partnership probably represents the most fast-moving piece of GM's investment and development of autonomous technology. GM invested $500 million in Lyft, and the companies have developed a plan to use the Chevrolet Bolt in a project to test a fleet of self-driving taxis on public roads. Very few details have been released about the project, but it appears that the cars, though autonomous, will have a driver in the vehicle who is ready and available to take control if needed (at least for now). Existing laws would likely make it difficult to operate a truly self-driving fleet at this time, though Lyft has said that it eventually plans to phase out the driver, relying completely on autonomous technology and smartphone apps. Reports in July 2016 indicated that the first test cars for this project might hit the road as early as the end of 2016. This Lyft-GM partnership car would be GM's first fully autonomous car to be released. To read more about the GM/Lyft project, go to http://www.wsj.com/articles/gm-lyft-to-test-self-driving-electric-taxis-1462460094.
GM also plans to introduce self-driving Volts to its technical center campus in Detroit in 2016. These cars will have an engineer at the wheel, but will be used on the eleven miles of on-campus roads which, in many ways, acts as its own mini-city. At the tech center, the cars can be tested on multiple traffic maneuvers, and employees will be able to hail the cars using an app. GM hopes to use the data it gathers through this system to implement automated driving technology on a much larger scale. To read an article about this initiative, go to https://www.wired.com/2015/10/gm-has-aggressive-plans-for-self-driving-cars/ and http://readwrite.com/2016/06/24/general-motors-autonomous-center/. GM has also announced plans to expand its autonomous car research and development at a center in Ontario, Canada.
In 2017, GM plans to offer Super Cruise on its Cadillac CT6. Super Cruise will be a semi-autonomous cruise control, allowing drivers to be hands-free while the car follows, brakes, and controls the speed of the vehicle on the highway. Reports indicate that GM will be much more incremental and conservative in bringing self-driving technology to market than some of its competitors. For instance, the first generation of Super Cruise will only work on highways that GM has mapped, and the car will scan the driver's eyes to make sure the driver is still paying attention.