Cruise AV: GM Removes the Steering Wheel

Cruise AV: GM Removes the Steering Wheel

For 110 years, General Motors has been making cars with steering wheels and pedals. Now all autonomous vehicle rules require a human to be behind the wheel during testing on public roads. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, self-driving cars can drive without human intervention but only in specific geographic locations. Two electric motors will power the fuel cell-powered, four-wheel steer concept vehicle. Removing the driver will really test the technology, said Gill Pratt, chief executive of Toyota Motor's Toyota Research Institute.

The company declined to identify the first states in which it plans to launch the vehicle or say when it would begin testing. For example, new cars must have an airbag in the steering wheel - but in this vehicle there will be no steering wheel.

However, the Detroit automaker has been gearing up to see its last date of deploying an autonomous ride-hailing fleet next year. More recently, it dispensed with safety drivers, though the vans still has steering wheels.

Ford said on Tuesday it will partner with delivery service Postmates Inc as the automaker starts testing ways to transport people, food and packages this spring in its self-driving cars, which are being developed by Ford's Argo unit. He says the company isn't announcing how many will be made.

GM, which also tests in Phoenix, said in a safety report slated to be released on Friday that for every 1,000 miles of autonomous driving, its auto needed to make 1,462 left turns in San Francisco, compared with 919 in the Phoenix suburbs.

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How the public will react remains to be seen, but they'll get their chance next year if GM's Chevrolet Cruise AV goes into production as planned.

GM is requesting that 2,500 vehicles receive exemptions.

The automaker, which has been busy testing its self-driving cars on the city streets of San Francisco, has filed a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking the agency to allow the company to deploy driverless cars that do not have steering wheels or brake pedals by 2019.

Only seven states now allow cars without drivers (though in practice there are virtually none, because the technology is still being perfected). It also asks permission to meet 16 safety requirements "in a different way", Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's chief counsel and public policy director for transportation and service, said on a conference call.

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