American auto giant General Motors Co. (GM) announced on Wednesday that it has more than doubled its automated car fleet in California.
Over the past three months, GM’s spokesman Ray Wert said that its self-driving unit Cruise Automation has raised the number of its vehicles being tested on the Californian streets to 100 from the previous range of 30 to 40.
Cruise is testing driverless cars in San Francisco as part of its efforts to develop software capable of running on the roads of a more crowded and hectic urban areas.
GM stated that while they anticipate the day of autonomous vehicles becoming a common means of transportation, the streets that people drive on at the moment are not so simple, and they will keep on learning how humans drive and improve how they share the road together.
So far, GM Cruise is making rapid progress with its driverless vehicles. Analyst Rod Lache believes that the company’s autonomous cars will be ready for commercial deployment sooner than expected.
Some analysts also expect that it might set up robot taxis within the next year or two.
GM Cruise Reports More Crashing Incidents
The unit’s vehicles got involved in six crashes in California in September, but it said that none of its cars were responsible.
GM stated that the accidents did not cause any serious injuries or damage; it did however, showed some challenges for makers of self-driving automobiles dealing with congested urban streets.
Overall, GM Cruise’s cars have been caught up in 13 collisions reported to the state regulators in 2017. The California state law has required that all crashes involving automated vehicles be reported, regardless of severity.
Cruise chief executive Kyle Vogt said that driving in San Francisco is no easy feat, adding that they are doing the test in the city because they have to and they believed that it is the quickest way towards creating self-driving cars at scale.
Vogt said that they have interacted with emergency vehicles 47 times more often than other locations where automated cars are being assessed.
US Senate Panel Lets Automakers Expand Self-driving Tests
GM might have more opportunity to assess its self-driving vehicles in the US as the US Senate panel decided on Wednesday to allow automakers to significantly expand their testing of autonomous cars without human controls.
The bill still has to clear a Senate vote, but it seems to be set for passage. If the bill goes through, it could help boost profits for automakers, tech companies, and transportation service providers.
Automakers would also be granted exemptions from safety regulations that need human controls. States can establish rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety checks, but not on performance standards.
GM, Alphabet Inc., Ford Motor Co., and others petitioned for the legislation, while some auto safety groups were against the proposal since they think it gives too much freedom to carmakers. They have urged for more safeguards and vowed to push for changes.
Within the span of three years, the bill would let automakers to each sell up to 80,000 automated cars year-over-year if they could guarantee that it is as safe as the current vehicles.