GM just introduced a self-driving auto without a steering wheel

The car will be the fourth generation all-electric Chevrolet Bolts which are currently undergoing autonomous-capability tests

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

For instance, cars now are required to have an air bag in the steering wheel. Removing the driver will really test the technology, said Gill Pratt, chief executive of Toyota Motor's Toyota Research Institute. It plans to launch a commercial service in the Phoenix area this year. For example, new cars must have an airbag in the steering wheel - but in this vehicle there will be no steering wheel.

GM wants to control its own self-driving fleet partly because of the tremendous revenue potential it sees in selling related services, from e-commerce to infotainment, to consumers riding in those vehicles. More recently, it dispensed with safety drivers, though the vans still has steering wheels.

The company said passengers can get the vehicle moving by communicating with several interior screens.

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.

GM, which also tests in Phoenix, said in a safety report slated to be released on Friday that for every 1,000 miles of autonomous driving, its vehicle needed to make 1,462 left turns in San Francisco, compared with 919 in the Phoenix suburbs.

What is the driver's seat in the Bolt EV will become the front left passenger seat in the Cruise AV, GM said.

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

"If passengers don't respond, an OnStar Advisor uses Global Positioning System technology to pinpoint the exact location of the vehicle and request that emergency help be sent immediately". In a November interview, GM President Dan Ammann attributed the accidents to testing in a dense urban environment and noted the company's cars weren't at fault in any of the incidents.

General Motors and its San Francisco subsidiary Cruise said Thursday that they have asked federal regulators to approve an autonomous auto with no steering wheel, brake pedals, accelerator "or other unnecessary controls".

Manufacturers can get around those standards by petitioning NHTSA for exemptions, provided they demonstrate that the exempted vehicle will be at least as safe as a conventional one.

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

Only seven states now allow cars without drivers (though in practice there are virtually none, because the technology is still being perfected). The petition also requests for the permission to have 16 security requirements in a unique way, says Paul Hemmersbaugh, a Public Policy Director and Chief Counsel at General Motors.

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The company said that the actions were possible partially because of the passage of tax reform. That investment is also expected to be completed by 2020. "This is unbelievable", Hackel said.

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