Autonomous Vehicles

The Henry Ford Museum adds self-driving Chevy Bolt EV to its collection

The Bolt EV is kitted out with Cruise Automation's development hardware.

It's definitely a noteworthy vehicle that belongs in a museum. That may change if AVs end up sentient and enslaving humanity, but that's a problem for down the road.

The Henry Ford

Even though The Henry Ford Museum might bear the name of the man that brought Ford Motor Company to the masses, that doesn't mean it's above acknowledging the achievements of Ford's competitors.

The Henry Ford announced on Tuesday that it had acquired one of Chevrolet's early Bolt EV self-driving development vehicles. Built on the same Lake Orion line as the regular Bolt EV, the cars are then outfitted with the hardware and software necessary to turn it into an autonomous development vehicle. This includes your usual standard bevy of sensors and emitters like lidar, radar and cameras.

"The self-driving vehicle is the most fundamental shift in what a car should be since the Model T turned the automobile into an everyday item," said Matt Anderson, transportation curator at The Henry Ford, in a statement. "While this first-generation test vehicle was quickly followed by more advanced versions, it made a bold statement that a major auto manufacturer was ready to move quickly on making self-driving cars a reality."

Chevrolet and Cruise Automation, which GM acquired in 2016, are currently working on something even wilder. The Cruise AV is an advanced version of the development car, lacking any driver controls whatsoever -- the front seats are for staring off to the horizon, although there's still an infotainment screen in the middle of the dash. It's eventually intended to be a dedicated ride-sharing vehicle that can autonomously arrive and depart at a whim.

It's an important one for The Henry Ford, too, because it's the first AV in its collection. For now, it's on display next to a 1959 Cadillac El Dorado in the "Driving America" exhibit at the museum.