American multinational conglomerate, General Motors (GM), is paving the way to a driverless future. The company submitted a federal safety proposal on Thursday for a vehicle which has no steering wheel or gas pedal. Dubbed the Chevrolet Cruise AV, the robotic car is slated to hit the roads in 2019.
General Motors filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the hopes of getting permission to deploy autonomous. The cars will be built on the Chevrolet Bolt EV platform. In addition, the petition also seeks permission to meet 16 safety requirements which will be tailored “in a different way” for the driverless vehicle.
The Detroit-based automaker said that the Chevrolet Cruise AV will be designed with self-opening doors and will offer accommodation for hearing and visually impaired customers.
“What’s really special about this is if you look back 20 years from now, it’s the first car without a steering wheel and pedals,” said Kyle Voigt, chief executive officer of Cruise Automation, the unit responsible for developing the software for GM’s self-driving cars.
The automaker will first test its autonomous vehicles in a ride-sharing program starting in 2019. GM also took into account the obvious worries surrounding a completely driverless car and installed a few safeguards. Besides applying for federal permission, the company said that the upcoming vehicles will travel on a pre-appointed route controlled by their mapping system. More so, Voigt explained that the Chevrolet Bolt has built-in systems designed to back the driving system. If the car’s software were to break down, it would slow down and pull over to the roadside and stop.
GM’s foray into autonomous vehicles is nothing new, although the upcoming car will still be one of the of its kind in commercial passenger service. Such breakthroughs are also being explored by startup, Zoox Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit.
GM’s pursuit of a federally approved vehicle won’t be without its obstacles, however. Federal safety regulation language is specially tailored to human drivers and vehicles designed to be driven by a human driver. Proving that their technology is safe would require the federal government to restructure its commercial driving legislation. Besides this, the company will also have to negotiate implementing their new cars on a state level. If GM receives federal approval, they would be able to deploy the Chevrolet Cruise AV only in seven states at first. These include Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Colorado, Texas, and Nevada.
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