General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra officially announced the company will begin testing autonomous Bolt EVs on public roadways in MI, effective immediately.
The announcement comes one week after Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that allows the cars to be tested on public roads without a driver or a steering wheel.
"We expect that GM will become the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles in a mass-production assembly plant", Barra said in a speech at GM's headquarters.
Testing is already underway on GM's 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. This allows for the testing and deployment of self-driving vehicles in the state.
Within a few months, General Motors will start testing the self-driving cars on the streets of Michigan's largest city of Detroit, the release noted.
The GM CEO declined to state when autonomous Bolts will be available for sale to the public.
Since the beginning of 2016, GM has taken significant steps in its development of autonomous vehicle technology. That factory builds Chevrolet Bolts and Chevrolet Sonic subcompact cars. GM workers will be adding to some of the Bolts cameras, sensors, Lidar, and other autonomous technology that will be tested out. Barra said that will be opening up later to roads nearby, and after that, expanded throughout the Detroit area. The new equipment will include LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware created to ensure system safety, leveraging GM's proven manufacturing quality standards. Tesla's Gigafactory may help in the future, but now it sounds like GM is going to get in on the mass market development of autonomous vehicles even sooner.
GM executives have said the automaker could eventually deploy self driving electric cars in fleets managed by its ride services partner, Lyft. The company now has more than 40 self-driving cars testing around San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona, but that number is sure to grow.