Like most of its competitors, General Motors is betting hard on autonomous cars being the future of transportation. But unlike Ford, Google, Uber, and others, GM has been pretty secretive about its self-driving cars, refusing to release images or footage of any public tests.
Today, Kyle Vogt, the head of the self-driving startup Cruise Automation that was recently acquired by GM for a reported $1 billion, tweeted dash camera footage of what’s described as a recent test of its self-driving car on the streets of San Francisco. We don’t get to see the actual car, but a GM spokesperson said it was a Chevy Bolt. Spy photos recently surfaced of the all-electric vehicle kitted out with self-driving sensors. GM President Dan Ammann, who is leading the auto giant’s self-driving efforts, was in the car at the time, according to Vogt’s tweet.
In the video, a green “autonomous” label can be seen in the bottom left corner throughout the short trip. The car travels effortlessly through the city, yielding to pedestrians, and stopping at red lights or behind double-parked vehicles. Unlike some of its competitors, it does not appear to run any red lights. At the beginning, text reads that the trip was facilitated using Cruise’s “mobile app.” A GM spokesperson clarified that the company is “using an app to set pickup and drop off location during development of the technology.”
Uber is offering public trials with its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, and until recently San Francisco. (The California DMV ordered the company to cease its test drives after Uber refused to obtain an automate driving permit.) Ford has said it plans to release a self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals by 2021. Google is planning on testing its new self-driving Chrysler minivans in Mountain View and Phoenix by the end of the month.
GM, on the other hand, has declined to offer more details on its self-driving plans. In late 2015, the company made a $500 million investment in Lyft with the expressed purpose of building a fleet of autonomous ride-hail vehicles. Meanwhile, Lyft’s founders have said it expects a majority of its trips to be in self-driving cars by 2021.
Back in October, Ammann told The Verge that the “only testing that really matters is testing in the real world.” He also provided some insight into GM’s position on the high-stake race to put functional self-driving cars on the road that is currently underway.
“Whoever’s first to put a driverless car to scale actually on the road and operate without a safety driver sort of wins,” he said. “Hence the need to test in these real world environments.”