General Motors Co (GM.N) is seeking USA government approval for a fully autonomous vehicle - one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal - to enter the automaker's first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019, executives said.
GM sees the announcement Friday as a significant step toward the widespread adoption of self-driving vehicle technology.
If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives permission to the petition filed by General Motors, the company could manufacture as more as 2500 driver-less vehicles of this type every year. In late 2017, GM announced at an investor event in San Francisco it would launch self-driving vehicles meant for deliveries and ride-hailing services in five USA markets in 2019. Before they can officially be on the market, GM has to pass safety tests and get approval from the federal government.
This will be one of the first self-driving vehicles in commercial passenger service and among the first to do away with manual controls for steering, brakes and throttle. GM's petition with DOT is meant to gain a waiver or exemption for their wheel-less vehicle.
"What we can do is put the equivalent of the passenger side airbag on that side as well". That's the maximum number the government will now allow for each manufacturer. GM is asking for exceptions to rules around cars on roads that are specific to having humans at the wheel, and detailing their workarounds and safety measures. Cruise accounted for 22 of the 27 autonomous vehicle crashes in California in 2017. Now, autonomous cars like this don't meet the Federal Motor Vehicle's safety standards.
Riders will be able to communicate with a call center with issues, and there are buttons that will stop the vehicle and allow them to exit in the event of an emergency. Arizona is one possible destination, as Cruise is already testing some of its other vehicles there, and the state's regulations are friendly to autonomous vehicles.
The Uber and Waymo test vehicles still have steering wheels and pedals.
What is the driver's seat in the Bolt EV will become the front left passenger seat in the Cruise AV, GM said. It plans to launch a commercial service in the Phoenix area this year.