WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - General Motors Co. (GM) said it plans to mass-produce self driving cars that will have no steering wheel, pedals or manual controls by 2019.
The automaker has filed a safety petition with the Department of Transportation for its fourth-generation self-driving Cruise AV, its first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own.
GM has petitioned the federal government for approval to adjust sixteen motor vehicle standards so that it can test the cars with no human backup drivers. The company is building its self-driving vehicles at its assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan.
'This comprehensive, integrated approach to safety, combined with testing in one of the most complex environments in the world, allows us to safely take the next step - elimination of the steering wheel, pedals and other manual controls - from the vehicle,' GM said.
The automaker noted that by eliminating the steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator pedal and other human driver controls, the left front seat became another forward-facing front passenger seat.
According to GM, the vehicle will start to move after customers enter the vehicle and meet all pre-conditions, such as closing the doors and pressing the begin ride button.
A customer having an emergency may end the ride at any point by making a stop request, and the vehicle will pull to the side of the road at the next available safe place.
In the event of a malfunction, the vehicle will provide explanatory information to the passengers, as well as offer communications with a remote operator. The vehicles will also have OnStar Automatic Crash Response.
Waymo, Alphabet Inc.'s self-driving technology company, is preparing to launch a commercial ride-hailing program in Phoenix using driver-less Chrysler Pacifica Minivans. Waymo has made a limited number of autonomous vehicles without steering wheels and pedals.
Ford has said it plans to launch a fully-autonomous vehicle by 2021. In February 2017, the automaker said it will invest $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI to develop a virtual driver system for Ford's autonomous vehicles.
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