GM sees self-driving vehicles in cities in 2019 (GM)

GM will put self-driving fleets in cities in 2019

GM considers autonomous vehicles the "biggest business opportunity since the creation of the internet", a market with with multitrillion-dollar potential that goes hand-in-hand with electric vehicles.

"If we continue on our current rate of change, we will be ready to deploy this technology in large scale in the most complex environments in 2019", Ammann said at a press and investor event in San Francisco, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. Once they're on the road, the vehicles' computers will constantly learn and improve.

The car-maker is already testing autonomous vehicles on busy San Francisco streets, as well as in Phoenix and its hometown, Detroit.

Delphi, an automotive supplier, said it expects its autonomous system to power commercial vehicles in limited areas in 2019.

Like Ford and other big name self-driving technology developers, including Uber and Google's Waymo, GM sees autonomous vehicles as the keystones of future transport.

Company executives didn't say how many vehicles GM would deploy or what cities they would be in, but they were clear that the company plans to run ride-hailing and delivery services and quickly make money off them - at higher profit margins than it now makes from selling cars and trucks. An employee in the back seat will be able to stop the vehicle by pushing a button but won't be able to steer the vehicle.

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Vogt said those issues would improve over time and that the victor of the self-driving auto race would be the one that first launches at "massive scale" rather than just being the first to market a model.

GM did not say where it will be launching its autonomous ride-hailing service.

GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in previous year.

With today's ride-hailing services, consumer do not have to be concerned with having sticker shock for the price of electric vehicles, and automation costs in the first few years will be expensive as well.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker - which views electric and autonomous vehicles as the keystones of future transport - has been focused on rolling out self-driving cars since its estimated $US1 billion ($F2b) acquisition of startup Cruise Automation in early 2016 that provided a toehold in the nascent industry.

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