GM CEO Mary Barra sees the automaker selling personal autonomous vehicles by the end of the decade leveraging technology from its autonomous subsidiary Cruise, according to comments made during the earnings call. company Wednesday.
Barra has yet to provide details, but instead presented a vision for the automaker’s future and how its stake in Cruise and its own internal efforts to further develop its advanced Super Cruise driver assistance system might evolve. over the next nine years.
“I always said that we had a kind of revolutionary and evolutionary strategy around driving assistance up to full autonomy level 4, level 5,” she said, referring to the levels automation systems designated by SAE International.
At the “revolutionary” end of Barra’s vision is Cruise, the stand-alone start-up in which GM has a controlling stake. Cruise is working on shared, electric and autonomous vehicles that will operate in dense urban areas and likely people and package shuttles. The company, which is testing its technology on public streets in San Francisco, has yet to deploy a commercial-scale robotaxi or a last-mile delivery business. Cruise also struck a deal earlier this month to launch a robotaxi service in Dubai in 2023.
As Cruise continues to test, validate and possibly launch its autonomous driving technology as a commercial product, GM continues to improve its Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance system and integrate it into more of its products. vehicle brands. Super Cruise uses a combination of lidar map data, high-precision GPS, cameras and radar sensors, as well as a driver attention system, which monitors the person behind the wheel to ensure that she is attentive. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system, Super Cruise users don’t need to have their hands on the wheel. However, their eyes should be kept straight ahead.
GM has historically taken a slower approach to Super Cruise compared to Tesla’s method of rolling out software updates that gives some owners early access to test enhanced features. Although now it looks like GM is keen to step up Super Cruise – in terms of capabilities and vehicle integration. Barra said on Wednesday that GM plans to roll out Super Cruise to 22 models by the end of 2023.
When GM launched Super Cruise in 2017, it was only available in one Cadillac model – the full-size CT6 sedan – and limited to split highways. That started to change in 2019 when GM announced plans to expand where Super Cruise would be available. The company has also increased the capacity of Super Cruise. The company’s new digital vehicle intelligence platform, known as VIP, provides more electrical bandwidth and data processing power, which has allowed engineers to add features such as automated lane changes. He’s also working on making Super Cruise available on city streets, not just highways.
“So Cruise is really focused on that full autonomy, but on Super Cruise we keep adding more and more features,” said Barra. “Our ultimate vision is that this system (Super Cruise) enables hands-free transport in 95% of driving scenarios.” Barra added that the company’s “Vehicle Intelligence (VIP) Platform, which connects each vehicle system in an advanced, high-speed and very secure network” is what makes the further development of Super Cruise possible.
VIP has 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour, a five-fold increase from GM’s previous architecture, according to Barra. This is sufficient capacity to handle all the data loads of its driver assistance systems, electric propulsion, live updates of each vehicle module, as well as the ability to manage feature applications, Barra said, adding that this will also allow the company to offer software. as a service, including new applications that it can market to customers. By the end of 2023, VIP will be on 7 million vehicles and 38 models worldwide, she said.
Ultimately though, Barra does want to take Cruise’s autonomous driving technology, designed on a robotaxis and last mile delivery, and integrate it into personal autonomous vehicles.
“There’s still a lot to do, but I think we’ll have personal autonomous vehicles and that will leverage the ability that we have at Cruise with the ability that we have at the automaker to be really well positioned to delight customers. of that. perspective, ”Barra said. “So both lanes are very important because the technology that we put on vehicles today, I think, makes them safer and thrills customers and is going to give us a subscription income opportunity and then the ultimate job that we do at Cruise, it’s totally self-sufficient, really opens up, you know, more possibilities than I think we can sketch out today.
Integrating an autonomous driving system used in a robotaxi into a passenger vehicle is a complex process. GM should start now to design, test and validate how to safely adapt this technology to vehicles that consumers can buy. It is not known if this is already happening.
GM said first-quarter revenue of $ 32.47 billion, a skosh below the $ 32.7 billion in the same period last year and lower than analysts expected. However, GM far exceeded earnings expectations, pushing the shares up 4% to close at $ 57.58. The automaker reported net profit of $ 3 billion in the first quarter, up from $ 294 million in the same period last year. On a Based on adjusted EBIT earnings, which excludes one-time items, it reported earnings of $ 4.4 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $ 2.25. Analysts expected adjusted EPS of $ 1.04.
“We also reaffirm our guidance for the full year, and based on what we know today, we see results arriving at the high end of the adjusted EBIT range of $ 10 billion to $ 11 billion that we have shared over early this year, Barra said in a statement. letter to shareholders, adding to the positive results. Those expectations take into account the potential impact of the ongoing chip shortage, GM said.