Chevrolet will soon begin testing prototypes of its autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV in Michigan, bringing the self-driving vehicle one step closer to Spencer Chevy dealers and Chevy dealers around the country.
Chevrolet hopes to be the first major automaker to get an autonomous vehicle to market. The Detroit automaker has embarked on a rigorous testing program of autonomous Bolts. Chevrolet has been testing them in other parts of the country, including San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona. The testing in Michigan will help Chevrolet assess how well the vehicle performs in cold, snowy weather and develop any technology needed to allow a self-driving vehicle to compensate for obstacles posed by these conditions.
The state of Michigan recently passed a series of laws specifically allowing automated driving in the state. The new laws establish the first regulatory regime for autonomous vehicles in the U.S.
Prior to the new laws’ enactment, automated driving was barred in the state. The new laws establish some commonsense standards for automated vehicles and poise Michigan to become a major hub for innovation regarding autonomous vehicles.
Chevy has yet to set a date for when the vehicle will appear in dealer showrooms. The company has committed to building the autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV in the same Michigan plant where it produces the Bolt EV and Sonic.
The Bolt EV
While the exact specs of the Chevrolet autonomous Bolt EV have yet to be released, it’s reasonable to assume that by the time it hits Spencer Chevy dealers and dealers around the country, the autonomous version of the Bolt will share many of the features of the current Chevy Bolt.
The 2017 model of the Bolt makes great strides in making electric vehicles more practical and appealing to auto consumers.
The new Bolt gets an average range of about 238 miles per charge—double the range of similarly priced electric vehicles. The Bolt also offers better performance than many of its rivals. The Bolt has a maximum speed of 91 mph and can go from zero to 60 mph in seven seconds or less. Sluggish performance has long been a complaint about electric vehicles, so the quick zero to 60 time is a huge accomplishment for Chevy.
The Bolt, a four-door hatchback, comes in two trim levels—LT and Premier. The LT base model comes well-equipped with features, including 17-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, electronic safety features to set parameters for teen driving, OnStar, xenon headlights, a rearview camera, and more.
One of the great tech features of the 2017 Bolt is a navigation feature that will plot routes based on the availability of EV charging stations—a real boon for drivers concerned about having sufficient charge for their vehicle.
The Premier trim level offers even more features, including a heated steering wheel and front seats, blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, a 360-degree parking camera, heated rear seats, and other great features.
The Bolt uses high-quality materials for seats and surfaces in the vehicle. The vehicle’s interior design is appropriately futuristic, and the cabin has a spaceship vibe that many drivers enjoy. The Bolt is comparable in size to other four-door hatchbacks, but it does provide extra cargo space. The Bolt’s cargo area offers 16.9 cubic feet of space for luggage, groceries, camping gear, and more.
The extended range, superior performance, and great amenities offered by the 2017 Chevy Bolt are likely to make the vehicle a hit when it appears at Chevy dealers in early 2017. Designers of the autonomous Bolt have aspirations of best-seller stardom for their vehicle, too, when dealers begin selling it within a few years.
Autonomous Car Technology
The upcoming autonomous Bolt will be a technological marvel. Autonomous vehicles can sense their environment and navigate without the assistance of a human navigator. While specific technologies for these vehicles remain in development, the broad strokes of the technology are easy to ascertain.
Autonomous vehicles will have equipment such as GPS, an internal navigation system, sensors, video cameras, and LIDAR that allow the vehicle to monitor road conditions, traffic, and other factors and respond to them. Autonomous vehicles combine all the data from its various cameras, sensors, and other devices to establish its location and that of nearby objects and to also develop a 3D image of its surroundings.
Autonomous vehicles use deliberative architecture, a system that allows them to make intelligent decisions by maintaining an internal map of their surroundings and utilizing the map to find their way to destinations while avoiding road structures, other vehicles, and pedestrians. Powerful on-board computers handle the process of localization, route mapping, and obstacle avoidance.
Why Autonomous Vehicles?
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to offer many economic, safety, and environmental benefits. Experts estimate that the introduction of self-driven vehicles will decrease the number of automobile accidents. According to Forbes Magazine, in 2012 there were 30,800 fatal automobile accidents. These accidents resulted in the deaths of 22,912 drivers and passengers, 4,957 motorcycle riders, 4,743 pedestrians, and 726 bicycle riders.
According to Forbes, the CDC estimates that fatal car wrecks result in about $317 billion in medical and other costs each year. Decreasing the number of fatal wrecks would greatly reduce these economic losses.
Non-deadly crashes are also great contributors to financial losses. Forbes estimated the annual cost of crash injuries to be around $189 billion. Autonomous vehicles will eventually eliminate much of the human error from driving, making the roads safer and reducing medical costs and insurance rates.
Self-driving vehicles will contribute greatly to increases in personal and professional productivity. Forbes estimated that the average person spends about 157 hours per year in his or her vehicle. When the vehicle itself is doing the driving, passengers are freed to read, do work, rest, check email, or pursue other activities.
Autonomous vehicles combined with ride-sharing services like Lyft will likely reduce the number of vehicles on the road, as infrequent users of automobiles will no longer feel compelled to own them if a quick and reliable service is available. The reduction in vehicles on the road will result in a reduction in energy use and carbon emissions related to the use of automobiles. Smart navigation will also result in fewer wasted miles by lost drivers, creating further reductions in energy use and emissions by vehicles.
Self-driving vehicles will also be a boon to senior citizens and the disabled, providing safe and reliable transportation to many who are currently unable to drive themselves and must depend on relatives or friends for rides to doctor’s appointments or for shopping.
Lyft has partnered with Chevrolet in the development of the autonomous vehicle. Chevrolet recently invested $500 million in Lyft, and the two companies plan to work together to develop a network of autonomous vehicles riders can summon on demand. The partnership could be a game-changer for the ride-hailing industry. Lyft and Uber are the major competitors in the American ride-hailing market.
Lyft is already using 5,000 of Chevy’s Bolt Electric vehicles in some big-city markets. The company is also participating in a plan that allows Lyft drivers to rent vehicles from Chevy at bargain prices.
When Chevy’s autonomous Bolts start showing up at dealerships, you can be certain that Spencer Chevy dealer Valley Chevy will be among the first to stock this innovative new vehicle. Valley Chevy prides itself on its commitment to innovation and its desire to provide consumers with the latest in American automotive technology. Visit today to learn more about the latest Chevy products.
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