General Motors will launch its own self-driving taxi service in 2019


However this announcement helps to solidify the industry speculation that autonomous vehicles will eventually be the sole vessels for ride-hailing services - and, if done strategically, automakers like GM can highly profit from the shift.

General Motors (GM) announced plans on Thursday to launch a fleet of fully autonomous ride-hailing vehicles in various cities by 2019, as reported by Reuters and other media outlets.

She said GM "believes in a vision and we are committed to a future where we have zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion".

In October, GM bought lidar sensor technology company Strobe Inc, saying the company's technology could lower the cost of the key laser-based sensor on self-driving cars by 99 percent. LIDAR technology uses light reflection to make high-resolution images to provide a clearer view of the road for cars, more so than cameras or radars, GM says.

Already, GM is working on testing an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle.

More news: Anthony Davis goes down with groin injury against Jazz

As for how many vehicles would be deployed and in what US cities, GM did not elaborate on that aspect of the announcement.

This, in the timelines of how quickly automaker usually move, is surprisingly soon, but GM President Dan Ammann seemed confident, adding that with GM's vertically-integrated infrastructure for making self-driving cars, the General is able to move much faster than others in this area.

GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said during the call that the newly announced taxi service could be "potentially bigger than our current core business, with better margins". The automaker's president Dan Ammann reportedly said during the event that GM now makes about $30,000 per sold vehicle, but that it could make hundreds of thousands per vehicle through ride-hailing and delivery services.

The plan for a 2019 deployment would likely put GM ahead of rivals such as former Google auto unit Waymo, which has begun small-scale trials of autonomous cars, and Uber, which has ordered vehicles from Volvo for deployment between 2019 and 2021.