Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

GM plans autonomous vehicle with no wheels or pedals for 2019

GM plans autonomous vehicle with no wheels or pedals for 2019

GM's self-driving division, Cruise Automation, unveiled the auto Friday, which features no steering wheel or gas and brake pedals.

GM declined to say where it would offer robot taxi service and how many cars might be involved.

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.

The automaker is seeking approval from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration to operate as many as 2,600 of the vehicles, according to TechCrunch.

The Cruise AV is GM's fourth-generation self-driving vehicle.

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"We are also working with industry groups and NHTSA to advance the development of new FMVSS that will (a) remove unnecessary roadblocks to new safety technology, such as self-driving vehicles, and (b) advance the safety of self-driving vehicle technology", GM wrote in a new safety report. But before it can use the new vehicles, GM will need special approval from the federal government. It says these aren't relevant because the vehicle doesn't have manual controls.

Where other companies like Lyft, Ford, Uber and Google sibling Waymo are forming partnerships to make the autonomous vehicle a reality, GM is taking the Tesla approach and going it alone. Since the robot vehicle would not have a steering wheel, it would instead have an air bag in the left front seat - now a passenger seat - that mirrors the one in the right front seat.

GM's autonomous test cars were in 22 accidents in California a year ago, according to data from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

Only seven states now allow cars without drivers (though in practice there are virtually none, because the technology is still being perfected). The government views the exemptions as a way to bring the benefits of autonomous vehicles to public roads while regulators are still adapting existing laws for the new technology. Cruise accounted for 22 of the 27 autonomous vehicle crashes in California in 2017.

The Cruise AV will be able to operate in hands-free mode only in premapped urban areas. 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. Waymo announced in November that it was removing test drivers from the front seat.

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