Cruise AV: GM Removes the Steering Wheel

GM introduces self-driving car without a steering wheel

General Motors is looking to reinvent the wheel, by building a vehicle without a steering wheel, pedals or gear selector, because it doesn't need them. This comes as little surprise given the company has been utilizing specialized Bolt EV's for autonomous testing for some time now.

This will be one of the first self-driving vehicles in commercial passenger service and among the first to do away with manual controls for steering, brakes and throttle.

Company President Dan Ammann told reporters GM had filed on Thursday for government approval to deploy the 'first production-ready vehicle designed from the start without a steering wheel, pedals or other unnecessary manual controls'. GM's petition with DOT is meant to gain a waiver or exemption for their wheel-less vehicle. 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.

If the federal safety highway agency approves GM's petition, the automaker could build up to 2,500 of these vehicles per year, though the automaker has not committed to a firm production plan. Cruise accounted for 22 of the 27 autonomous vehicle crashes in California in 2017.

Based on the Chevy Bolt, the electric Cruise AV will initially be employed in a ride-hailing capacity and operate within a pre-determined, well-mapped "geo-fenced" area, so it won't be entirely off the leash.

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GM and Cruise also released a safety report that provides a lot of detail about what measures they've put in place to keep the vehicle safe on streets.

Some of Cruise's competitors, including Uber and Waymo, are also testing in Arizona.

This includes having an airbag in what would normally be the driver's seat, but without a steering wheel. The layout, which the Verge calls "kind of eerie", features a dashboard with a console situated smack in the middle of the driver and passenger seats, with nothing but "blank real estate" in front of both.

The company declined to identify the first states in which it plans to launch the vehicle or say when it would begin testing.

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