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GM seeks testing of self-driving car with no wheel or pedals

By Sara Shayanian
GM seeks testing of self-driving car with no wheel or pedals
General Motors on Thursday filed a safety petition with the Department of Transportation to test its self-driving car fleet. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- General Motors submitted a federal safety proposal on Thursday to put its first self-driving vehicle on the road by 2019.

The company filed a safety petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its fourth-generationm self-driving Cruise AV -- the first vehicle to drive on its own with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.

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GM said the self-driving cars will be built on the Chevrolet Bolt EV platform next year and it's asking to meet 16 safety requirements "in a different way," Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's chief counsel and public policy director for transportation and service, said.

The legal problem in testing the vehicles is that standards require compliance through tests with a human driver and manual steering, acceleration and braking controls.

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"We are asking NHTSA to give us permission to meet the safety standards through a different approach because we can't achieve them now without a human driver or steering wheel," Hemmersbaugh said. "When you don't have a steering wheel it makes no sense to talk about an air bag in the steering wheel."

The automaker is preparing to meet its 2019 goal for deploying a driverless ride-hailing service in a yet-to-be-announced U.S. city. GM could create up to 2,500 automated vehicles per year.

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Since acquiring Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based startup in 2016, GM and Cruise developed four generations of self-driving vehicles.

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"When GM acquired Cruise, we began by installing our technology into existing cars as a retrofit strategy, and we knew that wouldn't scale," Kyle Vogt, Cruise CEO, said. "In the last 18 months, we've worked to rapidly and iteratively integrate this technology into a production-ready vehicle."

The automated functions are handled by a combination software, sensors and a laser-guidance technology called LiDAR.

The cars will also feature OnStar crash-response, which will automatically alert monitors and predict the severity of injuries in the event of a collision.

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Self-driving vehicles are allowed to be tested in seven states -- Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Nevada.

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