GM, Lyft to test self-driving taxis

Chevrolet Bolts, like the one shown here, will form the self-driving taxi fleet.

By Mike Davey

Hamilton, Ontario — May 9, 2016 — A fleet of self-driving taxis will be undergoing tests within the next year. This fleet is a joint effort between General Motors and Lyft. Lyft is a ride-hailing company similar to Uber. 

The fleet will consist of autonomous Chevrolet Bolts. Back in January, GM announced it would invest $500 million in Lyft. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the self-driving taxis will use technology that GM is acquiring as part of its purchase of Cruise Automation, a company based in San Francisco.

The full plan for the tests hasn’t been revealed yet, but customers will be involved according to an unnamed Lyft executive referenced in the Wall Street Journal’s report. When summoning a Lyft car using the company’s app, customers will be given the option of an autonomous vehicle or a human driver.

There will be a human driver during the testing phase in any case, regardless of which option a Lyft-user chooses. This is in part because of regulations, but also simply for the sake of safety as the technology is being tested.

“We will want to vet the autonomous tech between Cruise, GM and ourselves and slowly introduce this into markets,” said Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft’s Product Director, according to the report in the Wall Street Journal.

This news comes as conventional automotive manufacturers find themselves increasingly under threat from the tech sector. Google is seen by many as leading the way towards fully autonomous vehicles. The company’s efforts received a boost recently through a deal with Fiat-Chrysler to produce self-driving minivans.


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