GM said it has produced 50 of the third-generation vehicles.
DETROIT — Cruise Automation CEO and founder Kyle Vogt is touting the company’s newest version of its autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV as the “first real self-driving car.”
While some competitors may dispute that claim, the head of the General Motors subsidiary bolsters his remarks by also calling it “the world’s first mass-producible car” that meets the “redundancy and safety requirements” necessary to operate without a driver.
“This isn’t just a concept design — it has airbags, crumple zones, and comfortable seats,” he wrote Monday in a Medium post. “It’s assembled in a high-volume assembly plant capable of producing 100,000’s of vehicles per year, and we’d like to keep that plant busy.”
The third-generation vehicle comes nine months after the automaker started production of 130 of the second-generation self-driving hatchbacks at its Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit.
GM has produced 50 of the third-generation vehicles, according to a company spokesman. He declined to disclose how many of the third-gen vehicles the company plans to produce.
Both generations appear similar to the production Bolt on the outside, however, Vogt says the third-gen features “completely new and fault-tolerant electrical, communication, and actuation systems that are unique to a driverless vehicle,” including some sensors and controllers the company built “from scratch because nobody else was building them.”
An illustration of new equipment for the car highlights much of the interior componentry and exterior sensors and radars, including the sensor roof rack.
Vogt said the second-gen vehicles have all the key elements for autonomous driving, but they don’t contain “the redundancy and safety systems” Cruise believes “are necessary for full driverless operation.”
The third-gen cars, according to Vogt, will be a part of a fleet that carries Cruise employees anywhere in San Francisco. He says, “for now,” the cars will have humans behind the wheel.
Cruise, according to Vogt, has driven “hundreds of thousands of complex urban miles” in the self-driving cars. GM has announced testing of the cars in Arizona, California and Michigan.
Cruise, Vogt says, already is developing its next generation of autonomous Bolts. He attributed the rapid development partially to Cruise being a wholly owned subsidiary of GM, while also pointing out that if the company followed “typical OEM development cycles,” it would have taken six years.
GM’s autonomous vehicle engineering team is based in Michigan. It acquired Cruise Automation, a San Francisco autonomous vehicle startup, last year to develop and implement the software for the cars.
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