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General Motors seeks U.S. approval for vehicle with no steering wheel

14 January 2018, 12:35 | Melanie Burgess

Meet the Cruise AV, GM's First Production-Ready Driverless Car

General Motors says it is making the first mass-production autonomous car without a steering wheel or pedals. The company has filed a government petition to put the vehicles based on the Chevy Bolt EV on the road sometime next year with no human backup

The automaker said it petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 16 specific exceptions to meet current federal safety standards with workarounds that accommodate the cars' unique nature.

General Motors revealed its latest self-driving vehicle Friday, and observers might notice a few things missing: namely a steering wheel and all other manual controls. The Cruise AV is GM's fourth-generation of self-driving software and has 21 radars, 16 cameras, and sensing devices that use lasers to detect objects.

It also plans to restrict the fleet to operation under a GM-owned ride-sharing service-that is, the company has no plans yet to sell a Cruise AV to customers.

This glimpse at the near-future comes a month after GM made the bold announcement that it would have a fully driverless taxi fleet up and running in 2019.

"A auto without a steering wheel can't have a steering wheel airbag", Ammann told The Verge.

Display screens will allow the Cruise AV to communicate with its occupants.

That is to say, it has no steering wheel, no pedals and no real driver controls at all - aside from a touchscreen - and GM says it'll hit the road in 2019.

The Detroit-based motoring firm says the Cruise AV a rebranded version of GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV has even been designed to open doors for passengers
The Detroit-based motoring firm says the Cruise AV a rebranded version of GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV has even been designed to open doors for passengers

The new self-driving vehicles are built at GM's assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan State, on the Chevrolet Bolt EV (electric vehicle) platform.

And the vehicle doesn't just drive itself, if you forget to close the door behind you it'll do that itself without complaint before heading off to pick up another fare.

GM has applied for exemption from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 16 safety standards, saying they don't apply to their automated vehicle, CNN reported.

However, GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge GM that the company might "meet that standard in a different kind of way". Unlike some vehicles coming out of the electronics show, GM's vision looks rather ordinary, a natural transition from today's vehicles.

Like many other companies, GM says the goal of self-driving cars is to eliminate crashes. In February 2017, the automaker said it will invest $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI to develop a virtual driver system for Ford's autonomous vehicles.

GM submitted a safety petition with the Department of Transportation Thursday and plans to mass produce the vehicle as early as next year, the automotive giant announced Friday.

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