As we often like to highlight when talking about self-driving development programs, data can make all the difference. And the best way to accumulate a lot of data is through large test fleets. While Tesla went the way of adding sensors to all its production vehicles to gather data, most other automakers and tech companies are doing it through captive test fleets, which all vary in sizes.
GM could be about to get the largest of those fleets by increasing their number of test vehicles, Chevy Bolt EVs with Cruise Automation’s sensor suite, from just 50 to 300.
The expanded fleet of vehicles was reported by IEEE Spectrum through applications for radio spectrums in documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):
“New short- and medium-range radars will be deployed in 300 self-driving Chevrolet Bolts, perhaps beginning as soon as next month. That will give GM and its autonomous technology subsidiary Cruise Automation the largest fleet of self-driving cars in the world.”
Currently, Waymo probably has the largest fleet right now through their program with Chrysler to equip 100 Pacifica vans with their sensors and software. Most other companies are testing only with fairly small fleets of dozens of prototypes at best and some even fewer, like Apple. The Cupertino company recently obtained its first permits to test self-driving cars on public roads in California from only 3 test vehicles.
Tesla also accumulated only about 550 autonomous miles with a handful of Model X SUVs equipped with the company latest software build for full autonomy, but again, most of its data is accumulated through vehicles sold to customers.
It means that this latest development is likely to make GM’s fleet the largest captive self-driving test fleets.
There are a lot of autonomous driving news coming from GM lately since the company just announced another investment in California through its self-driving startup Cruise Automation. The automaker plans to invest $14 million and add 1,100 through the next 5 years to develop self-driving cars.
Additionally, GM confirmed that they will finally release their first level 2 semi-autonomous system ‘Super Cruise’ in the 2018 Cadillac CT6. While we have yet to test the new system, it certainly seems like GM is investing heavily in autonomous technology and is seeking to be taken more seriously in the field.