In the race to redefine personal mobility, General Motors Co. is joining Waymo, Uber, and Ford Motor Co. by developing a self-driving ridesharing service. Forbes reported the operation is expected to launch in San Francisco by 2019, and the automaker will expand the commercial service at scale in multiple other cities.
During an investor conference in San Francisco earlier this week, GM president Daniel Ammann told analysts there have been “exponential levels of improvement” regarding mass production of vehicles at a Detroit plant in the last 18 months.
“We can tell you today – if we continue on the current rate of change, we’ll be ready to deploy this technology at large scale in the most complex environments, in 2019,” says Ammann.
The presentation was intended to help investors clarify the value GM expects to unlock as it transitions its business model toward mobility as a service and away from automotive manufacturing. Ammann adds that the evolution is “the biggest business opportunity since the creation of the Internet.”
“Getting to the launch point is an immense challenge, but then it’s about the rapid learning curve,” he says. “If you can get on that first, and then go fast, it’s going to get really interesting.”
Despite regulatory difficulties in other cities, GM plans to get self-driving ridesharing costs to less than $1 per mile by the middle of the next decade.
“What will control the timing, however, is safety,” Ammann tells investors. “This will be the gating metric. The bar is very high. This will be the deciding factor for when we will be able to take the driver out of the car.”