An interview with GM CEO Mary Barra from Axios has provided some of the executive’s insights about full self-driving solutions, competition from Tesla and the Detroit-based company’s strategy for the deployment of its autonomous driving tech.
Barra proved conservative, emphasizing that GM will not deploy its full self-driving suite until it is safer than a human driver.
The emergence of full self-driving technologies is all but inevitable at this point, with companies such as Waymo and electric car makers such as Tesla actively pursuing the development and refinement of autonomous driving solutions. Among the industry’s players, Tesla appears to have the momentum, as the company has the largest amount of real-world driving data gathered from hundreds of thousands of vehicles currently on the road. Augmented by the rollout of Tesla’s custom self-driving computer, Elon Musk has been optimistic with the company’s full self-driving rollout plans. Musk has stated that the company’s FSD suite will be “feature complete” by the end of 2019 and that it will have around a million vehicles capable of being used as autonomous “robotaxis” in 2020.
When asked by the publication about the competition from Tesla and if it is essential for a company to be the first to deploy an autonomous driving system, the GM CEO response was cautious. “We want to be safe. And so that’s what’s motivating us. We understand this is life-changing technology,” Barra said, later adding that “there are so many different ways that we can improve our customers’ lives by having this technology, not only from a safety, but from a productivity (standpoint), what they can do. But what they do, we want to make sure they do safely.”
Barra’s rather conservative statements in her interview feature a rather different tone than her previous forecasts for GM’s full self-driving solutions. Speaking at the Dealbook conference last November, Barra stated that GM was on schedule to deploy its self-driving technology in 2019. “We’re on track, with our rate of learning, to be able to do that next year,” she said. During her segment, Barra said that GM had a strategy to show that its vehicles are safer than human drivers.