GM has big plans to massively grow its test fleet of self-driving cars.
The automaker aims to build and test thousands of self-driving Chevy Bolts on the Lyft network in 2018, according to a Reuters report citing sources.
GM is currently already testing autonomous Bolts in San Francisco and in Scottsdale, Arizona, but the move to add thousands of self-driving vehicles to its test fleet could mean the company is looking to expand the areas in which it operates. GM told Business Insider that the company
GM would not confirm the 2018 timeline to Business Insider, but the company said that its autonomous cars will be used in a ride-sharing network “sooner than you might think.”
In July 2016, Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer of autonomous tech, told Business Insider that the company’s first commercial self-driving car would be electric and launch on the Lyft network. In October, Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of global product development, confirmed to Business Insider that this vehicle would indeed be the Bolt.
The Bolt, of course, is GM’s first long range, affordable electric car. It has a range of 238 miles per charge, a top speed of 91 mph, and costs about $30,000, after a $7,500 federal tax credit.
GM began production of its vehicle in October, beating Tesla to the punch for creating the first mass market, electric vehicle. Tesla plans to launch its first affordable, long-range vehicle, dubbed the Model 3, at the end of 2017.
The Bolt that is currently available to consumers is not autonomous, but it still boasts a number of impressive features.
Here’s a look at some of the car’s best tech and design features.
There’s a 10.2-inch touch-screen display infotainment center and an 8-inch display in the driver’s console.
- Cadie Thompson/Business Insider
The main display, which is customizable, serves as the control center for most functions inside the vehicle.
“We really want the driver to live in this screen, so they’ve always got a little bit of the information that they want to have,” Stuart Norris, one of the Bolt’s designers, told Business Insider during an interview in January 2016.
The car also has wireless charging in the console.
There are two USB ports in the console so you can plug in your smartphone to connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The car is always connected via low-energy Bluetooth, allowing the driver to be connected to the car via the app at all times.
Chevrolet’s mobile app lets drivers check on the vehicle’s charge, remotely start their car, and precondition the cabin, among other things. The car’s key fob also uses Bluetooth for keyless entry and ignition.
The Bolt features five cameras: one on the front, one on each side mirror, a 360 camera, and a regular back-up camera.
- Cadie Thompson/Business Insider
It’s likely that the autonomous version of the Bolt will have more cameras to help support its self-driving system.
While charging, the car gains about 25 miles in range every hour. The car can fully charge in nine hours with a 240-volt unit.
The “lane keep assist” feature will help drivers avoid accidents.
- General Motors
This feature monitors where the car is positioned relative to the lines on the road so that if the car is drifting it will steer the car back into its lane.
“Even at quite a simple level we are beginning to bring some of these autonomous features into vehicles like the Bolt,” Norris said.
The seats are very thin, which helps the car to feel more spacious on the inside.
“Typically these seats would be made of foam,” Norris said. “But this is a hard plastic part with a thin layer of foam on top of it, which has enabled us to get to this really thin seat construction, which makes the car feel lean and kind of efficient. It helps the rear end feel more spacious,” Norris said.
Five people can comfortably fit in the car. When the back seats are pushed forward, there is almost 57 cubic feet of cargo space.