Cruise AV: GM Removes the Steering Wheel

The driverless car will be GM's fourth-generation Chevrolet BoltGM

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.

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.

Just as 1908 marked the end of the horse and buggy era with the introduction of the Ford Model T, 2018 may well be remembered as the end of the automotive era, as General Motors begins mass-production of a driverless auto without steering wheels or pedals.

General Motors Co. has just announced its new self-driving vehicle unveiling in 2019, which will be controlled by a smart robotic brain without steering wheel and gas pedal.

GM says that, come the deployment of the Cruise AV, it'll be offered on a ride-sharing basis.

As noted from the interior photo, the Cruise AV is clearly based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Besides the absence of a steering wheel, pedals, and other controls for the missing driver, the Cruise AV adds numerous sensors including the pricey but crucial Lidar that can be seen protruding from the rooftop bar. Testing within GM's own properties, and later on public roads in MI, has been underway since 2016. The robo-taxi could earn revenue in the "several hundred thousands of dollars" region, Ammann said, compared to the $30,000 average revenue earned from GM cars sold today.

The autonomous cars now being tested by major companies still have manual controls. Alphabet's ( GOOGL ) Waymo self-driving unit intends to launch a ride-sharing service using driverless Fiat Chrysler ( FCAU ) Pacifica minivans outside of Phoenix. The mass production of the self-driving vehicle is expected to take place at a factory in Orion Township, Michigan.

If NHTSA approves GM's petition for their machine-only cars, the company will still need to get permission from different states to legally run them.

As GM made the announcement on Friday, shares in the company rose as high as 1.1 percent at 9:36am in NY, coming in at $44.68, GM's highest intraday trading level since November 29, Bloomberg Technology reports.

Only seven states now allow cars without drivers (though in practice there are virtually none, because the technology is still being perfected).

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