General Motors plans commercial, autonomous robot-taxi service by 2019

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GM said that based on its current rate that it expects its autonomous vehicles to be at "commercial launch at scale" within the next year.

It has regularly announced big investments and progress reports, but the company has kept its prototype vehicles largely under wraps - until now.

GM announced in September that it was already preparing to mass produce a line of self-driving cars, and the following month the company revealed that it would be expanding its public road testing to include Manhattan.

Chief executive Mary Barra told investors the company is well-positioned for the transformation now happening in the auto-industry, including an increased investment in electrification and automation of vehicles.

GM shares have rallied this year as the company has tempted investors with its plans for the future.

The news organization notes that after the Thursday afternoon presentation, GM's shares fell 1.8 percent, $43.04 per share.

General Motors announced at an investor presentation in San Francisco that it expects to launch self-driving vehicles meant for delivers and ride-hailing in five USA markets in 2019.

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According to GM, if ride-sharing miles increase to 20 per cent of total miles driven, it could represent a US$750-billion market. "The good news is we see a pretty clear path to how we can do that".

"Everything we are doing is geared to speed", GM's president, Daniel Ammann, told journalists at an event showcasing the cars Tuesday.

And although GM has been reluctant to show off the cars it has developed through a subsidiary, Cruise Automation, the company now wants to prove that self-driving models are getting closer to general use. The vehicles are expected to be used as delivery vehicles, and to help transport people. GM hopes that, through the acquisition of Strobe and technological developments, the next generation LIDAR technology will cost around US$10,000.

The slides posted on GM's website also say the company is the leader in the field, but is focused on self-driving vehicles safety.

Earlier this month, an autonomous vehicle testing zone opened in Stratford, Ont., allowing researchers to test self-driving technology in a range of everyday traffic scenarios. Those tests are taking place in San Francisco, Detroit, and Phoenix.

The carmaker will generate far more revenue with this business framework.