GM will build and test autonomous Bolt EVs in metro Detroit

The driverless Bolts will start rolling out of Orion Assembly in early 2017.

Less than a week after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the country's most lenient autonomous vehicle standards, General Motors has announced its plans to not only test driverless cars in the Wolverine State, but produce them here, too. According to GM and reported here in October of last year, the General's autonomous vehicles are already floating around Michigan, at the company's historic Warren Technical Center. The new Michigan law is letting GM expand beyond Warren, first to the outlying roads, and then to the broader metro area.

But to be fair, we expected something like this following last week's announcement. The bigger news is that General Motors will build autonomous test vehicles not in some special facility, but at one of its normal manufacturing plants. That privilege goes to GM's Orion Assembly, about an hour north of the company's Renaissance Center HQ.

The facility is already responsible for Bolt EV production, making it a natural site for screwing together a limited test fleet of autonomous variants of the new electric car. The autonomous Bolts will rely on "LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to ensure system safety, leveraging GM's proven manufacturing quality standards." The Orion Township plant will start cranking out autonomous Bolts in early 2017.

"Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today's announcement gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality," GM CEO Mary Barra said in an official statement. "Our autonomous technology will be reliable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles."

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