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GM planning to run autonomous Chevy Volts by 2017

Published: October 07, 2015 | Detroit, MI

General motors has announced to run autonomous Volt cars in 2017. The automaker plans to use the test fleet of Volts to more quickly develop autonomous vehicles as it moves testing from professional drivers and test tracks into more real-world scenarios. The Volts will interact in the real world with pedestrians, traffic and stop signs. Speeds will be limited to about 25 mph on the campus.

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The test fleet will drive and park itself so a passenger could sit back and let the car find its way. But it will be equipped to allow a driver to take over at any time.

To use an autonomous 2017 Volt, GM employees will reserve a Volt using a car-sharing app, then select a destination (presumably within the confines of the Tech Center). The autonomous technology in these 2017 Volts will bring the passenger to the desired destination and park. GM aims for the program to serve as a rapid-development laboratory to provide data and lessons to accelerate the company’s technical capabilities in autonomous vehicles.

According to GM, which announced the news at a conference at its Milford (MI) Proving Grounds, employees at the Warren Tech Center will be able to use an app to reserve one of the autonomous Volts, which will then pick them up, drop them off, and park itself at the final destination.

Employees are always going to need to get around the 600-acre site, and rather than simply driving themselves, GM can now use their movements to gather all manner of data and impressions on the autonomous technology.

For the rest of  who aren’t GM insiders, they’ll need to wait many years—likely more than a decade—for the sort of technology demonstrated there, unrestricted for real-world driving. In the meantime, GM’s so-called Super Cruise autonomous-driving technology is an interim step, and the automaker confirms that it will first be offered in the 2017 Cadillac CTS.

GM also announced two new car- and ride-sharing projects, one in New York City operating today and one to come in first quarter next year in another U.S. city. Each project will further expand the company’s participation in alternate transportation models, which the company anticipates will generate additional revenue and profits. These will amplify the company’s recent car-sharing projects to test hardware and software systems and gain insights into car-sharing user experiences.

For example, one of GM’s first mobility partnerships was with Google early last year, where it tested a commuter ride-sharing service using Chevrolet Spark EVs. Using an app, drivers and riders were matched based on trip patterns and schedules. The project demonstrated value and potential in creating automotive transportation services, leading to other initiatives like its New York City program announced today.

In Europe the company’s Opel brand has also recently deployed a peer-to-peer sharing service called CarUnity, which incorporates dealers and their fleets to provide an array of available vehicles for sharing. In China earlier this year a fleet of EN-V 2.0 electric concept vehicles went into service at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai as part of a multi-modal campus transportation system alongside bicycles, cars and shuttle buses.

Source: General Motors

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