Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

GM debuts self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel

GM debuts self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel

GM reports Friday that it officially filed a safety petition with the Department of Transportation to put the Cruise AV sans steering wheel or pedals on roads by 2019 without a human backup.

Mr Vogt said the self-driving Bolt has redundant systems built in to back up the driving systems.

The Cruise AV is GM's fourth-generation self-driving vehicle. Removing the driver will really test the technology, said Gill Pratt, chief executive of Toyota Motor's Toyota Research Institute.

Waymo, which used to be the autonomous auto arm of Alphabet Inc.'s Google, has made a limited number of autonomous vehicles without steering wheels and pedals. Its Firefly prototype had no steering wheel or pedals and in 2015 took a blind man for what the company called "the world's first truly self-driving trip".

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.

The company said passengers can get the auto moving by communicating with several interior screens. GM last August announced its own ride-sharing service called Cruise Anywhere that so far has only been used by employees at Cruise Automation, the self-driving vehicle development company acquired by GM in 2016 for a rumored $1 billion.

The company declined to identify the first states in which it plans to launch the vehicle or say when it would begin testing. Cruise's auto had to navigate construction blocking the lane more than 18 times as often in the Bay Area and had to deal with emergency vehicles 270 times, versus six Phoenix encounters, according to the report. Cruise accounted for 22 of the 27 autonomous vehicle crashes in California in 2017. All other companies combined had five accidents.

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 Uber and Waymo test vehicles still have steering wheels and pedals.

In other states, including those that stipulate a auto must have a licensed human driver, GM will work with regulators to change or get a waiver from existing rules.

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