A unit of General Motors developing self-driving auto technology announced that it is ready to begin production of fully automated, driverless cars on a mass scale once the software is fully developed and the regulatory environment is ready.
“Today, we’re announcing the first production design of a self-driving car that can be built at massive scale,” Kyle Vogt, CEO and founder of Cruise Automation, a self-driving car developer that GM acquired as a startup last year, told Tech Crunch. “And more importantly, these vehicles can operate without a driver.”
All the mechanical components of the self-driving cars are in place. Once the software is perfected, the cars will be able to operate fully and safely on the roads without a driver present.
GM and Cruise Automation are gearing up GM’s production facility in Orion, Michigan, and establishing a network of suppliers to get parts ready for the self-driving cars. Redundancy in the parts is going to be key for the production of fully automated cars, Doug Parks, GM’s VP of Autonomous Technology and Vehicle Execution told Tech Crunch.
Whereas parts that operate in a strictly mechanical manner vary widely in design and function, many parts for self-driving cars will be the same from model to model. Forty percent of the parts are new in GM’s new self-driving cars, Mr. Vogt told Tech Crunch.
Aside from the ability of the vehicle’s software to process its surrounding s and safely control the vehicle, another key element in safety is sheer numbers.
“Vogt talked about how their goal throughout has been to increase safety with autonomous tech, and pointed out that there’s no way that can happen without scale: Launching a few hundred cars on the roads isn’t going to accomplish that larger benefit,” Tech Crunch explained.
“The key challenge, and what’s hard especially for tech companies, is building the cars,” he said. “And building lots of them.”
Meanwhile, legislators and industry representatives commenced hearings in Washington Wednesday, Sept. 13, to discuss the regulatory and legal framework for making self-driving tractor-trailers a reality.
Driver error is fully or partly to blame in about 90 percent of the more than 4,000 deaths and 10,000 injuries attributed to trucks and buses every year, according to federal safety data.