GM, Lyft bringing self-driving cabs to Austin
AUSTIN – After investing $500 million into ride sharing company Lyft, GM this week announced it would partner with the ride-hailing service to bring a fleet of self-driving cabs to Austin, Texas.
GM President Dan Ammann discussed the plan with Mashable during this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
“The first mainstream deployment of autonomous vehicles won’t be to customers but to a ride-share platform,” Ammann said. “We’re going to have a car that operates only in downtown Austin that has a maximum speed of 30 mph and operates in controlled conditions.”
This type of strategy — rolling out autonomous vehicles in the context of what’s essentially the more high-tech equivalent of a taxi — isn’t unique to the Lyft/GM arrangement.
Back in February, Bloomberg reported Google, an early Uber investor, planned to launch a competing service using its fleet of autonomous vehicles that have clocked more than 1 million miles of road tests in the San Francisco and Austin areas.
Back to Lyft, President John Zimmer recently told The New York Times, “We strongly believe that autonomous vehicle go-to-market strategy is through a network, not through individual car ownership.”
Ammann said he expects the autonomous vehicles to be Chevy Malibus and Volts, which, according to Mashable, “will be digitally personalized to you — even before you open the door. With your Lyft profile, the car will know who you are and your preferences and will arrive preset with all the things you like — think Spotify playlists and ideal seat settings. All you’ll have to do is tell it where you’re going within downtown Austin and it’ll take you there autonomously.”