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

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

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

Now all autonomous vehicle rules require a human to be behind the wheel during testing on public roads.

The Uber and Waymo test vehicles still have 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". For self-driving cars, these are "unintentional but necessary" barriers, he said, and the company is pushing for a change in the laws.

Meet the Cruise AV, GM's First Production-Ready Driverless Car

The Detroit automaker is looking to meet its deadline for deploying a driverless ride-hailing service next year in a yet-to-be-named city. This means we'll likely see it initially deployed in only a few select areas where GM has been testing its self-driving cars, such as in San Francisco and parts of MI.

"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.

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The company said the investment announced Thursday is separate from a 2015 labor deal with the United Auto Workers union. The company also plans to pay $2,000 bonuses this spring to about 60,000 hourly and salaried USA employees.

GM plans to build up to 2,500 of the robot cars a year at its Orion, Mich., assembly plant, where 1,000 people work in an area the size of 75 football fields. In a November interview, GM President Dan Ammann attributed the accidents to testing in a dense urban environment and noted the company's cars weren't at fault in any of the incidents.

But because the new GM vehicle is fully autonomous, the company says there is no need for manual controls, such as a steering wheel or accelerator and brake pedals.

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The automaker said it petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 16 specific exceptions to meet current federal safety standards with workarounds that accommodate the cars' unique nature.

Manufacturers can get around those standards by petitioning NHTSA for exemptions, provided they demonstrate that the exempted vehicle will be at least as safe as a conventional one.

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Specifically, the auto contains 21 radar sensors, 16 cameras, and no fewer than five lidar units, and runs on self-driving software developed by Cruise and GM. That's the maximum number the government will now allow for each manufacturer. Currently, only seven states allow the technology to be tested without a safety driver, said Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's chief counsel and policy director for transportation as a service.

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