GM's latest self-driving auto has no steering wheel or pedals

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

GM just revealed a fully autonomous electric car that doesn't have a steering wheel

GM's petition with DOT is meant to gain a waiver or exemption for their wheel-less vehicle. Two electric motors will power the fuel cell-powered, four-wheel steer concept vehicle.

The company says it has filed a petition with the USA federal government seeking permission to put the vehicles on the road sometime next year with no human backup drivers. "So what we do instead is put in an airbag that mirrors the right front passenger side, and show it provides equivalent safety".

"Once we get that approval from the federal government, we will be cleared to deploy these vehicles", said Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM chief counsel and public policy director.

GM's autonomous test cars were in 22 accidents in California past year, according to data from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

If NHTSA gives the approval, General Motors Co. will still require permission from states to run the cars without steering wheel.

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Ford said on Tuesday it will partner with delivery service Postmates Inc as the automaker starts testing ways to transport people, food and packages this spring in its self-driving cars, which are being developed by Ford's Argo unit. That's the maximum number the government will now allow for each manufacturer. California is not one of them, although it has draft regulations pending that would permit driverless cars. However, this will be subject to local law allowing fully autonomous cars - with no safety driver - on the public road in the first place.

GM's experiment will be a significant step forward for self-driving cars. A poll released this week, as Congress hashes out legislation for autonomous vehicles, found that many Americans are concerned about sharing the road with robot cars and want stricter federal oversight. The group includes consumer advocates as well as a former administrator of the highway traffic safety agency.

It also features aids for the vision- and hearing-impaired, including the ability to close its own doors. GM's OnStar remote service would be available in the event of a crash.

The test riders are employees of Cruise Automation, the self-driving vehicle software company GM bought in March 2016-reputedly for $1 billion or more-using an in-house service called Cruise Anywhere. Responding to questions about when and where the vehicles would be tested, Vogt had a one-word answer: "2019".

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