If you’re already dreaming of a world where you can head to a dealership to buy a self-driving car, keep dreaming.
According to GM’s president, that’s still a long way in the future.
Dan Ammann, who’s been president of General Motors since 2014, says self-driving cars are on the horizon — less than 10 years away — but it will be a lot longer before they’re in the driveways and garages of American homes.
Ammann didn’t give a specific timeline for when the cars would be available to the masses besides saying it’s “much farther in the future,” but he did say where he believes the technology will get its start.
“It’s very clear that the first application of autonomous vehicles is in a ride-sharing setting,” Ammann told Business Insider.
There are several things holding back autonomous cars from making it the mainstream, Ammann said, one of them being geography. While the cars can be programmed to drive themselves around a fixed geographic area like a city, programming them to roam around the continental United States without limits will be a lot more challenging — and that’s not to mention the work that will have to go into preparing the cars for challenging terrains or hazardous weather.
This is why ride-hailing makes a lot more sense. In a city like New York, the cars could pick up and drop off passengers within the neat and naturally-constrained grid of Manhattan. In San Francisco, ride-hailing companies could program the cars to drive around the seven-by-seven area of the city.
GM is already working on making this a reality. The automotive company invested $500 million in ride-hailing company Lyft in January, embarking on a partnership to build self-driving cars. Shortly thereafter, GM bought
self-driving vehicle startup Cruise Automation for $581 million. In July, GM told Business Insider that the company plans to launch an electric driverless car on the Lyft platform very soon.
And according to recent reports, GM has also tried to buy Lyft outright in order to further its work with the company, but Lyft’s $9 billion price tag was too high. Ammann refused to comment on the speculation.
All Ammann will say is that as of right now, the self-driving car project is on track.
“We’re working as fast as we can,” Ammann said.
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