GM and Lyft Will Test Self-Driving Taxis Within the Next Year
General Motors and Lyft’s self-driving taxis will begin testing in the not-too-distant future.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published some details shared by Lyft director of product Taggart Matthiesen about how an upcoming pilot from the companies will likely work. It could involve a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt, a GM-made (GM) electric car due out later this year, Matthiesen said.
The pilot will be the first test under the partnership previously announced in January, which includes a $500 million investment from GM into ride-hailing company Lyft. The cars will also use self-driving technology developed by Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based startup GM acquired for a reported $1 billion earlier this year, according to the report.
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A Lyft spokeswoman told Fortune that “we’ve always said that we’ll have an on-demand network life on GM’s campus by the end of the year.”
So far, California, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, and D.C. have passed state legislation to allow self-driving car testing on public roads. That said, Google is also testing its self-driving cars in cities outside those states, including deployments in Austin, Phoenix, and soon in Kirkland, Wash. Thus, Lyft and GM have a number of options should they choose to expand their testing beyond GM’s campus because the lack of regulations in a particular state can also mean they can get permission to run such a pilot program.
Though many other details are still getting worked out, Lyft riders will be able to opt out of getting picked up by a self-driving car when they hail a ride through the app, according to the report. Lyft will also have drivers in the cars at first to ease safety concerns, but the company expects to eventually phase them out.
The companies also plan to eventually make Chevy Bolt cars available for Lyft drivers. At the moment, Lyft drivers can rent out Chevy Equinox cars from a GM-owned and operated hub in Chicago, though that program will expand to more cities and shift to mostly Bolt cars.
“GM continues to make progress on our previously announced plans related to an integrated on-demand autonomous network with Lyft. Similarly, we have said the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the ideal platform for ride-sharing solutions,” a GM spokesman told Fortune. “We have nothing specific to announce in relation to potential rollout of vehicles and technologies at this time,” he added.
Lyft and GM’s upcoming pilot comes amid fierce competition among automakers and transportation companies. Lyft’s top rival, Uber, has been heavily investing in self-driving technology and opened a research center in Pittsburgh last year, though its partnership with Carnegie Mellon University has cooled. Automakers from Tesla to Ford are also working on self-driving technology, and Google, which has been developing its own self-driving cars since 2009, recently announced a partnership with Fiat Chrysler to build self-driving minivans.
Correction: The story has been updated with comments from Lyft and GM to reflect that Matthiesen’s comments were made in a hypothetical scenario.