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GM is bringing its self-driving Chevy Bolt EV program to Michigan for testing, claims it will be first to market

General Motors has begun testing fully autonomous development fleet vehicles on public roads in Michigan, starting with roads nearby its Technical Center in Warren.

Following GM’s acquisition of autonomous driving startup Cruise Automation, the company launched autonomous vehicle testing programs using the all-electric Chevy Botl EV in San Francisco and Arizona. Today, the company announced that it is bringing the program home in Michigan after the state passed a new law approving self-driving vehicles for testing and even sales after an evaluation process.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said that testing in the state started immediately with the current generation of the autonomous vehicle, but she also announced that the automaker will start producing “the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly plant beginning in early 2017.”

The company now has more than 40 autonomous vehicles testing in Scottsdale, Arizona, and San Francisco, California. The new vehicles will add to the fleet in Michigan, where they will undergo intensive testing at GM’s Technical Center campus in Warren.

The automaker released a few shots of one of the test vehicles already on the campus since the state passed the law last week:

Barra claims that her company will be first to mass produce completely autonomous vehicles.

“We expect to be the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles in a mass-production assembly plant.”

While the company is making a push for fully self-driving cars, it has fallen far behind in advanced driver assist features.

GM’s Supercruise, which is described as a similar system as Tesla’s Autopilot, is about 2 years late. The automaker claims it will have the following features:

  • Adaptive speed cruise control from stop and go traffic to highway speed
  • Active lane keeping/lane steering
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Side collision avoidance

It was supposed to be installed in last year’s Cadillac CT6, but after several delays, the company now expects next year’s version of the luxury sedan to have the SuperCruise and be the first vehicle in all of GM’s brands to be equipped with the system.

As for a timeline for a fully autonomous system like the one being developed on the Chevy Bolt EV, company executives have previously mentioned the popular industry timeline of “2020”.  As for being the first, Tesla boasts one of the most aggressive timelines in the industry. It is already equipping every vehicle off its assembly line with hardware that the automaker claims will enable full autonomy.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he expects the software to be ready in “late 2017” when the company expects to be starting volume production of the Model 3.

With Google also clarifying its plans for a fully autonomous system, it looks like the race is still on.

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