GM debuts self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel

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The concept shows a vehicle which has no mirrors, steering wheel or pedals, but it does have screens for every passenger and what appear to be two large, red emergency stop buttons in the roof and within reach of all passengers.

Unlike, General Motors, Waymo has not petitioned the federal government to allow it to test vehicles without steering wheels and pedals.

GM sees the announcement Friday as a significant step toward the widespread adoption of self-driving vehicle technology. Eventually, it should serve in ride-hailing services in cities across the U.S.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) 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. In the event of approval to its petition, the automaker could build up to 2,500 of these vehicles per year, though it has to yet commit to a firm production plan. The Cruise AV is created to operate with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or other manual controls when it goes on the road in 2019.

The Cruise AV is GM's fourth-generation self-driving vehicle. Currently, only seven states allow the technology to be tested without a safety driver, said Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's chief counsel and policy director for transportation as a service.

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GM purchased driverless tech startup Cruise Automation for a reported $600m in 2016, and a year later it acquired Strobe, a company which GM thinks can help it cut the cost of manufacturing autonomous auto sensors by 99 percent. The government views the exemptions as a way to bring the benefits of autonomous vehicles to public roads while regulators are still adapting existing laws for the new technology.

About 50 test vehicles from that generation have been undergoing tests in a geographically restricted area of downtown San Francisco.

"We are also working with industry groups and NHTSA to advance the development of new FMVSS that will (a) remove unnecessary roadblocks to new safety technology, such as self-driving vehicles, and (b) advance the safety of self-driving vehicle technology", GM wrote in a new safety report. Earlier in the fall, the federal government had requested more safety details from the self-driving vehicle industry.

GM, Zoox, Waymo and others have all tested Level 4 cars, but usually with a driver still at the wheel to take over in case the system doesn't work properly. Waymo announced in November that it was removing test drivers from the front seat.

The company declined to identify the first states in which it plans to launch the vehicle or say when it would begin testing.

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