General Motors will test self-driving cars on public roads in Michigan

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Bill Pugliano/Getty

General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra said the company will immediately begin testing self-driving cars on public roads in Michigan.

Barra made the announcement at a press conference held at GM’s Renaissance Center headquarters in Detroit. The press conference was streamed on Facebook Live.

GM is currently testing 40 self-driving Chevy Bolts, its electric car, on the streets of San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona.

GM invested $500 million in Lyft to build self-driving cars in January, and it acquired the autonomous-car startup Cruise Automation in March.

Michigan became the first state to establish regulations for the testing, use, and eventual sale of self-driving cars last Friday. The legislation allows for the testing of self-driving cars without a steering wheel, brake pedal, or human in the front seat.

It also allows companies to sell self-driving cars once the tech is tested and certified and use self-driving cars for ride-sharing services. Barra said the legislation, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder at the Automotive Hall of Fame, helped prompt the decision.

Barra said at the press event that the Michigan testing will begin on the outskirts of GM’s Tech Center in Warren, Michigan, but will eventually expand to metro Detroit in the “next several months.”

“This will be our main location for cold weather… as well as winter driving conditions,” Barra said. “By adding Michigan to our public testing program we are ensuring that our AVs can operate safely across a full range of road, weather, and climate conditions.”

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The Chevy Bolt.
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Chevrolet

Barra added that GM will produce the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles, self-driving Chevy Bolts, at its Orion Assembly Plant beginning early next year.

Barra told Business Insider’s Cadie Thompson that its first self-driving car for public use will be its all-electric Chevy Bolt. She also said GM is focused on testing its cars on different road conditions to ensure safety.

“A lot of the conversation has been about, ‘Oh, we have this many miles,’ but it’s not as much about the miles as it is about the experiences that the car learns,” she told Business Insider.

Dan Grossman, the chief operating officer of Maven, told Business Insider that its car-sharing service Maven fits in with its self-driving car plans.

“If the autonomous world is going to be real, and everyone thinks it will, we already own a tremendous company [Cruise Automation] that can deploy either in a GM product or car sharing,” he said. “Meaning, maybe you get a Maven one day where it just shows up at your door.”