After touting plans last year to "commercialize" self-driving cars in 2019, GM Cruise LLC has postponed the idea.
The Verge reported Wednesday that GM Cruise's public ride-hailing service with its self-driving vehicles will not happen this year, according to company CEO and former GM President Dan Ammann. Instead, Ammann said the goal is to "get there as soon as possible." GM has always underscored that public safety will ultimately guide timelines, but the postponement seems to highlight a point Ford CEO Jim Hackett made earlier this year: the industry may have over-estimated how soon self-driving cars will arrive.
Ammann said everything the company, which is also known as Cruise Automation, does and will continue to do revolves around safety. In turn, the company plans to seriously expand its fleet of self-driving car prototypes to put more miles on each car's odometer. More miles driven equates to more learning about self-driving cars, and that will move GM Cruise toward its goal of launching a public service.
Chevrolet Cruise AV self-driving car
Speaking of the future service, Ammann did confirm it will eventually launch in Cruise's hometown of San Francisco. The West Coast and dry climates have been popular for autonomous car testing to ensure rain and other elements don't cause hiccups. GM also tests Cruise AVs in Arizona and Michigan.
Also working against GM Cruise, which General Motors acquired in 2016, is the lack of a final decision on its proposed self-driving cars without a steering wheel or pedals. The company showed off the Cruise AV without the typical driver controls in early 2018 and noted it had petitioned the NHTSA to allow the prototypes on the road. Current law mandates all vehicles have manual controls. The NHTSA opened a public comment period for the matter in March and closed the comments in May. Now, GM awaits the government agency's decision.