Mass production of self-driving cars which will not have the traditional controls such as steering wheels and pedals is to be started by General Motors by 2019. The bold declaration was made by the company and is one of the issues that would shake things at eth annual Detroit Auto Show.
The company is at present testing out its driverless, all-electric Chevy Bolts cars on public roads in San Francisco and Phoenix and the proposed car would be a fourth generation of this car. The new breed of cars would form a part of ride-hailing vehicles in a number of cities after t hey are manufactured at the manufacturing plant of the company in Orion, Michigan.
“It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann said. “And it’s an interesting thing to share with everybody.”
The industry for development and commercial manufacture of autonomous cars is getting increasingly hyper sensitive and the bold announcement of the rolling out of its fully driverless cars with a short timeframe indicates that GM is attempting to outdo its rivals both old and new in this new industry segment. While Waymo, the Google parent Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, is getting ready to roll out its first commercial ride-hailing service in Phoenix with complete autonomous minivans, an autonomous car that would not have a steering wheel and pedal would be launched by Ford by 2021.
Deployment permission for a car that is not completely complaint with all of the federal safety standards was submitted via a petition by GM to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GM does not want to be allowed an exemption from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Ammann said, but instead it just wants a different interpretation of some of the requirements.
GM is proposing to “meet that standard in a different kind of way,” Ammann said. “A car without a steering wheel can’t have a steering wheel airbag,” he said. “What we can do is put the equivalent of the passenger side airbag on that side as well. So its to meet the standards but meet them in a way that’s different than what’s exactly prescribed, and that’s what the petition seeks to get approval for.”
A 33-page safety report to the US Department of Transportation was also released by GM along with this announcement. To allow the government to be aware about the fast moving technology in the field of autonomous vehicles, both tech companies and car makers engaged in the development of self-driving cars were suggested by the fed to voluntarily submit a safety checklist. Such a check list had been earlier submitted only by Waymo. GM is the second firm to do so.
(Adapted from TheVerge.com)