General Motors (GM) filed a petition asking the federal government permission to deploy self-driving Chevy Bolts that have no steering wheel, pedals, or other manual controls as it prepares to launch a robo ride-sharing service by 2019.
The petition, which was filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is the latest step toward the company’s goal of deploying a commercial robotaxi service. The federal government has requirements for human-driven vehicles, that don’t necessarily correspond with a vehicle driven by AI. For instance, human-driven vehicles require an airbag in a steering wheel. But if there isn’t a steering wheel in the vehicle than that requirement would be impossible to meet. GM is asking the NHTSA for permission to meet these safety requirements through a different approach.
GM also published its 2018 self-driving safety report which contains the first images of a new generation of its autonomous vehicle, the fourth version the company has produced in the 18 months since it finalized its acquisition of startup Cruise Automation in May 2016.
The fourth generation vehicle has fully redundant computer systems, communication, electrical, breaking and gearing systems, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said Thursday on a press call.
“What’s really special, if you look back 20 years from now at the history of AV deployment, it’s a major milestone to make a production-ready vehicle with no manual controls, especially one built on high-volume assembly lines,” Vogt said.
“It’s quite striking,” said GM President Dan Ammann, describing the vehicle. “We believe this is a pretty notable milestone on the journey to AV deployment where we’re talking about a real production car with no manual controls.”
GM will still have to work with states even if NHTSA approves the automaker’s petition.