GM reveals first ''mass-producible'' driverless vehicle

The company fails to mention that its third-generation autonomous Bolt prototype is still equipped with $40,000 worth of redundant lidar sensors.

General Motors and its Cruise Automation division claim to have built the world's first "mass-producible" driverless car.

Images of the third-generation autonomous Chevrolet Bolt prototype do not look much different than earlier editions, but Cruise suggests the latest build is the first that meets its redundancy and safety requirements for fully autonomous operation.

"There's no other car like this in existence," says Cruise chief Kyle Vogt. "It's assembled in a high-volume assembly plant capable of producing 100,000's of vehicles per year, and we'd like to keep that plant busy."

The third-generation design is said to have completely new fault-tolerant electrical, communication and actuation systems that are not found in the current production Bolt.

The "world's first" title will undoubtedly be viewed as a dig at Tesla, as the second-generation Autopilot hardware is also claimed to be capable of true driverless operation. To be clear, both companies claim their hardware is ready but neither has demonstrated Level 5-capable software.

GM and Cruise carefully avoid labeling the autonomous Bolt as an actual production car. Though it may be built on an assembly line like the current Bolt, pictures suggest Cruise's redundant systems include expensive lidar sensors. The units closely resemble Velodyne's latest lidar Puck, promoted as "vastly more cost-effective" despite a $7,999 price tag. With five Pucks on each self-driving Bolt, the lidar sensor array may be worth more than the base Bolt's $37,495 MSRP.

"It has taken the collective effort of over two thousand people to create this product, and we believe that together we've managed to create something that will one day drive significantly better than any individual," Vogt promises.

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