Back in November 2017, General Motors set an ambitious goal of launching a large-scale fleet of robotaxis by the end of the year in the U.S. Dan Ammann, GM’s former president and now lead of GM’s autonomous vehicle unit, Cruise, says the company is working hard to meet its goal. However, unexpected government hurdles and reported technical issues to launch the service on time has stalled the company’s initial expected timeline.
"We're working aggressively," GM CEO Mary Barra said last month when asked about Cruise. "Our rate of iteration continues to improve. So, that is the position we're in and that's the approach that we have, and we're very much looking forward to rolling out this technology because we do believe it will save lives."
The planned public ride-hailing service will use self driving vehicles in “dense urban environments” with no backup drivers aboard. But given the obstacles that still remain, it's more likely that any service GM starts this year would be much more limited in scope, perhaps only in San Francisco with human safety drivers behind the wheel.
GM executives have been steadfast in saying safety would be its deciding factor regarding the launch of the fleet, but none has given a meaningful update on the plans in some time.