Cruise AV: GM Removes the Steering Wheel

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Trials of driverless ride-sharing services have mostly had backup drivers to take control in case of malfunctions.

The news comes from a GM announcement about its safety petition to the US Department of Transportation for permission to put the Cruise AV on roads as early as next year. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed on Friday that GM sought approval to operate up to 2,500 units of the Cruise AV.

General Motors (GM) announced Friday that it plans to put a truly self-driving vehicle - with no steering wheels, pedals and manual controls, or even the usual backup driver in the front seat - on the road in 2019.

On Thursday GM submitted a petition to the NHTSA detailing the safety features of the "Cruise AV" vehicle. GM executives have said they planned to introduce a large-scale fleet of self-driving taxis by 2019, a time frame some analysts consider ambitious.

As of the market's close on January 11, 2018, General Motors Company's share price was up more than 18% over the past 12 months and has been trading at all-time high levels since October 2017.

As the vehicle is entirely autonomous, the company said there was no need for a steering wheel or even a brake pedal. As you can see in this concept video, the interior of the self-driving Bolt, or Cruise EV, looks nothing like the futuristic Byton or other over-the-top concepts we've seen over the years.

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Obtaining a federal waiver would permit GM to operate the vehicles in the seven or so states that don't already have laws that restrict such vehicles.

That is to say, it has no steering wheel, no pedals and no real driver controls at all - aside from a touchscreen - and GM says it'll hit the road in 2019.

GM sees self-driving fleets of vehicles as a high-growth opportunity, and new paths for revenue are especially key to automakers as auto sales have started to slow down in the USA after several years of increases.

GM has openly stated that this car's main goal is for ride-sharing.

GM showed the third-generation test vehicle in October and has been using a geo-fenced portion of San Francisco for testing, a suitably tricky test bed to ensure vehicles can handle any situation. The work started by retrofitting vehicles with lidar, sensors, and other equipment to read the surroundings and make drive decisions but the end goal was always a bespoke self-driving auto.

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