GM Cruise’s decision to postpone deployment of its autonomous, on-demand ride-sharing fleet signals a larger concern automakers should consider when pushing AV innovation, Grayson Brulte, president of Brulte & Co., told Auto Finance News.
Regulations are one of the biggest hurdles for automakers invested in AV, Brulte said. “The rockstars and the biggest assets to AV companies are the policy staff,” he said. “The policy team — not the engineers — needs to make the decision on where to deploy the services,” he said, adding that each state has different laws related to autonomous vehicles.
California, where GM Cruise is based, is by far the most restrictive when it comes to regulations on autonomous vehicles, which hampers innovation, Brulte said. In fact, California prohibits for-profit autonomous vehicle services.
GM Cruise Chief Executive Dan Ammann announced on Medium that the San Francisco-based company intends to expand its footprint in the city to increase testing and validation miles driven. A company spokesman confirmed that the company still plans to unveil a car-sharing service in San Francisco, although he declined to disclose a timeline or additional details. The company currently offers an autonomous ride-sharing service for its employees.
General Motors, the parent company for GM Cruise, had previously said that it hoped to deploy 2,500 modified Chevy Bolts as part of a controlled, on-demand ride-sharing fleet at the end of 2019, according to Reuters. Honda has also invest $750 million in the AV manufacturer.