US automaker General Motors is going to produce the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly plant beginning in early 2017.
ETAuto reports that it is also to immediately begin testing such vehicles on public roads.
General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra (pictured above) said: “Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality.
“Our autonomous technology will be reliable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles.”
Testing is already underway on General Motors’ Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan, and with the passage of the SAVE Act legislation will now expand to public roads on the facility’s outskirts.
Within the next few months, testing will expand to metro Detroit, which will become General Motors’ main location for development of autonomous technology in winter climates.
Workers at the Orion Township assembly plant will build test fleet Bolt EVs equipped with fully autonomous technology. The plant currently manufactures the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Sonic. The new equipment will include LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to ensure system safety, leveraging General Motors’ proven manufacturing quality standards.
The test fleet vehicles will be used by General Motors engineers for continued testing and validation of General Motors’ autonomous technology already underway on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as part of the Michigan testing fleet.
In January 2016, the company announced the formation of a dedicated autonomous vehicle engineering team and a $500 million investment in Lyft to develop an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the US. In March, the company announced the acquisition of Cruise Automation to provide deep software talent and rapid development expertise to help speed development.
In June, General Motors began testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EVs on the public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale. The company has more than 40 autonomous vehicles testing in the two cities.