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GM to deliver autonomous auto with no steering wheel
February 21 2018, 05:38 | Irvin Gilbert
How GM's Cruise AV works
GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge that the company isn't now desiring an exemption, rather will find a different way to "meet that standard in a different kind of way". "We are building the world's best autonomous vehicles to safely connect people to the places, things, and experiences they care about".
GM has filed a Safety Petition with the Department of Transportation for its fourth-generation self-driving Cruise AV to drive with no steering wheel, pedals, manual controls or driver.
This includes having an airbag in what would normally be the driver's seat, but without a steering wheel. 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.
Assuming everything is completed on schedule, GM's 2019 launch target would put it a full two years ahead of rival Ford Motor Co., which said that it hopes to start producing autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel by 2021.
Now only seven states-Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada-allow for testing vehicles without steering wheels or pedals. From what we can see of the auto, the Cruise AV will be based on the existing Chevy Bolt EV prototypes and has said in a safety document that users would request a ride via a smartphone app, and that the autonomous vehicles would be sent automatically to pick them up. GM has said its first production automated vehicles will be in some kind of ride-hailing or ride-sharing arrangement.
What was once the driver's seat in the Bolt becomes the left front passenger seat in the Cruise AV; what was once the instrument panel gets blanked out instead.
GM has unveiled what it's calling the first production-ready vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals. The automaker and companies including Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo unit and startup Zoox Inc. have demonstrated cars that can drive with so-called Level 4 autonomy. Thus, San Francisco challenges our self-driving system more because, as the number of objects increase, there are exponentially more possible interactions with objects that the self- driving system must consider.
Besides the absence of a steering wheel, pedals, and other controls for the missing driver, the Cruise AV adds numerous sensors including the pricey but crucial Lidar that can be seen protruding from the rooftop bar. The company has presented its federal safety proposal on Thursday to run the exclusive robotic vehicle on public roadways by next year.
"Once we get that approval from the federal government, we will be cleared to deploy these vehicles", said Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM chief counsel and public policy director.