General Motors launched a new autonomous car model that doesn’t have a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedals.
The automaker’s self-driving car company, Cruise Automation, announced last Friday that its new driverless car model would be without any type of manual control.
The new steering wheel-less vehicle comes in the shape of a Chevy Bolt, and the company expects to begin testing it in 2019.
“When you see this image for the first time it's quite striking," said Dan Ammann, president of GM. "That's why we believe this is a notable moment on the journey to full AV (autonomous vehicle) deployment."
GM has petitioned the federal government for approval to adjust 16 motor vehicle standards so that it can legally test a driverless vehicle model with no manual controls.
If regulators in Washington agree to modify the set vehicle standards to make room for an autonomous steering wheel-less car, GM plans on testing up to 2,500 of the Chevy Bolts on public roads in seven different states.
To initiate the approval process, the automaker has filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, claiming that the set safety standards are no longer relevant with the new vehicle model.
“When you don’t have a steering wheel, it makes no sense to talk about an airbag in a steering wheel,” Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM’s policy director for autonomous vehicles said. “So what we do instead is put in an airbag that mirrors the right front passenger side, and show it provides equivalent safety.”
Along with the petition, Cruise Automation also released a safety report that details the steps the company is taking to ensure the vehicles are ready and safe to drive on public roadways.
When probed about the previous autonomous vehicle crashes in California linked to the driverless tech company, Cruise responded by acknowledging 22 out of 27 accidents and pointed to the challenges the company faces when testing out such vehicles in dense urban areas.
Each of the new Chevy Bolts that are without manual controls will feature an emergency stop button that passengers can press if they need to stop the car for any reason.
"We think people will look at that (car) and think it's a pretty important development," said Ammann.
GM’s new driverless vehicles will also be equipped with the automaker’s fourth-generation self-driving software and hardware, including 21 radars, 16 cameras and five LIDARs, which are sensing devices that use laser light to help autonomous cars sense nearby objects.
Cruise expects the new Chevy Bolts will also be used for ride-hailing services in cities across the U.S. in the coming years.