September 11th, 2017 by James Ayre on Clean Technica
GM & Cruise Automation now have a design ready for a mass-production self-driving vehicle, the world’s first according to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt. (Edit: As commenters have noted, this is a little confusing since the Tesla Model 3 also has a design ready for mass production and full self-driving capability. It’s actually already being produced in limited numbers and should be in mass production by the end of the year. It’s unclear how the GM & Cruise vehicle is something different in these regards.)
In other words, Cruise and GM have designed a car that’s fully capable of driving itself while also being easily manufactured on a massive scale. The solution could be deployed immediately if the software was ready and clear regulations were in place, according to the companies.
The Cruise CEO stated: “Today, we’re announcing the first production design of a self-driving car that can be built at massive scale. And more importantly, these vehicles can operate without a driver.”
So, once the company’s software is adequately polished and national regulators have provided a clear framework for deployment, the company will seemingly be able to rapidly launch a self-driving taxi program or fleet sales.
Part of what the announcement entails is that suppliers have been lined up, and the design features “full redundancy” throughout — reportedly meaning that it’s ready to “fail operationally and (still) be safe.”
Tech Crunch provides more: “The vehicle will be based on a third-generation Cruise self-driving platform, using the Chevrolet Bolt, and will be produced at the automaker’s Orion, Michigan facility, which is where they previously announced they would be producing their Bolt test cars.
“…Retrofit vehicles are hard to build, he said, and they ‘keep breaking,’ so it’s hard to continually fix them up and get them back on the roads. This announcement means that the cars will be able to roll off the line in quantities of hundreds of thousands per year. And while they look very much like the current shipping Bolt EV, under the hood, Vogt said that 40% of the parts are new, and most of those are focused on redundancy of parts and systems.”
So far, 50 of the new vehicles have been built, with production expected to ramp up from here on out. It’s not clear yet, though, when the company’s self-driving software will be commercially ready. Also, the plan is for sales to be entirely — or nearly so — to fleet operators.
Over the coming weeks the units that have been produced to date will be deployed in San Francisco as part of the “Cruise Anywhere” on-demand ride-hailing pilot for company employees.