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GM seeks US approval to deploy self-driving car without a steering wheel


The Cruise Origin driverless car has a boxy, rectangular shape.
Enlarge / The Cruise Origin.

Cruise

GM’s Cruise subsidiary has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for permission to put the driverless Cruise Origin into commercial service. Cruise announced the filing of its petition for approval on Friday, saying the car is “a zero-emission, shared, electric vehicle that has been purposefully designed from the ground up to operate without a human driver. This means it does not rely on certain human-centered features, like a steering wheel or a sun visor, to operate safely.”

Cruise said its petition, filed together with parent company GM, “demonstrates how the Origin achieves safety objectives of existing standards and helps enable future AV [autonomous vehicle] regulations.” The vehicles will be manufactured at GM’s “Factory ZERO” in Michigan, Cruise’s announcement said. “Production is expected to begin in late 2022 in Detroit at a GM factory with vehicles delivered in 2023, Cruise said Friday,” according to Reuters.

The Cruise Origin interior.

The Cruise Origin interior.

Cruise

US law allows companies to seek temporary exemptions from safety rules to deploy up to 2,500 vehicles. GM previously sought an exemption for an earlier design based on the Chevy Bolt; the NHTSA took public comment on the request for an exemption in early 2019, and GM withdrew the petition in 2020.

Cruise argued that driverless taxi service using the Origin will benefit people who cannot drive or who don’t have easy access to transportation. “The Origin will help expand mobility options for seniors, people who are blind or have low vision, and other communities that have traditionally faced barriers in access to reliable transportation,” the company said.

Cruise taking sign-ups in San Francisco

Three weeks ago, Cruise started taking sign-ups for people who want to take a ride in a driverless car in San Francisco. That limited deployment was authorized by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. It uses the self-driving car based on the Chevy Bolt, as the Cruise Origin hasn’t been deployed yet.

Alphabet’s Waymo division began providing its self-driving ride-hailing service in San Francisco in August 2021. Waymo was already offering the service in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. Several other companies are planning driverless cars as well.

GM is the majority owner of Cruise, which also has investments from SoftBank, Honda, Microsoft, and Walmart. Here’s another view of the Cruise Origin from Friday’s announcement:

The Cruise Origin.

The Cruise Origin.



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