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GM Announces Autonomous Cruise For 2019

GM will start putting Cruise AVs up for sale starting in 2019.

In the race for the fully autonomous car of the future, it looks like General Motors will reach the finish line first. Well, maybe not the finish line, but certainly the first major milestone.

The Cruise AV is set to become the first production fully autonomous vehicle (hence the AV moniker). It’s actually a Chevy Bolt that’s been heavily modified with autonomous tech, such as a sensor array on the roof and around the car covered in lidars, radars, and other -dars, along with an advanced suite of software that takes over the tedium of driving from its human passengers.

There’s no wheel. There are no pedals. All you do is tell the car where to go via a few touchscreens or the phone app and it takes you there, no questions asked. It’s the first Level 5 autonomous vehicle you’re ever likely to step foot in.

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GM has announced that they’ll be putting the car into production starting in 2019, and they’re upgrading their Orion Township and Brownstown plans to do it. The Orion plant makes the car itself alongside the Chevy Bolt and Sonic, while Brownstown builds the roof pods that contain all the delicate and expensive sensors.

“We’re continuing to make great progress on our plans to commercialize in 2019,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “Our Orion and Brownstown teams have proven experience in building high-quality self-driving test vehicles and battery packs, so they are well-prepared to produce the Cruise AV.”

The plants have already created three generation of Cruise AV test platforms that have previously contained things like steering wheels. But this time they’re ready to take the training wheels off and give in to our purely silicon future.

GM will invest $100 million in both plants to gear up for the eventual release of the Cruise AV. With GM already running a car sharing platform with their Maven brand, it’s likely that GM will be their own biggest customer as they get people used to the idea of a driverless car.

But after that? GM expects each car to recoup their production costs and then some.

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