GM just introduced a self-driving vehicle without a steering wheel

GM just introduced a self-driving vehicle without a steering wheel

Cruise, which is based in San Francisco, expects to test the modified Chevy Bolt next year.

When GM starts testing its autonomous electric sedan in San Francisco ride-sharing fleets, it'll likely be the first production-ready auto on the roads without the tools to let a human assume control.

The first market-ready self-driving auto is poised to come from General Motors Co., which submitted its federal safety proposal Thursday to put a robotic vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal on public roads in 2019.

The autonomous cars now being tested by major companies still have manual controls.

The company said passengers can get the auto moving by communicating with several interior screens.

Other companies, from Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] to Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Waymo, have been testing self-driving vehicle prototypes in limited ride sharing applications, but have been less explicit than GM in announcing plans for commercial robo-taxi services.

The company has filed a petition with the USA federal government seeking permission to put the vehicles on the road sometime next year, with no human backup drivers. Cruise accounted for 22 of the 27 autonomous vehicle crashes in California in 2017. GM's petition with DOT is meant to gain a waiver or exemption for their wheel-less vehicle. Current law caps the number of exempted vehicles at 2,500 vehicles per manufacturer per year. It has previously pointed to the challenges of testing in dense urban areas. Earlier in the fall, the federal government had requested more safety details from the self-driving vehicle industry.

In October, Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google's parent company, released a safety report of its own.

Cruise wouldn't say where it will eventually deploy the new vehicles or how soon the public will be able to ride in them.

GM, Zoox, Waymo and others have all tested Level 4 cars, but usually with a driver still at the wheel to take over in case the system doesn't work properly.

GM argues Waymo's tests are mostly in the greater Phoenix area, where traffic situations are less complex than what it's encountered in San Francisco.

This includes having an airbag in what would normally be the driver's seat, but without a steering wheel.

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