General Motors to make first mass-market driverless vehicle

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"We've put together four generations of autonomous vehicles over the course of 18 months", says Dan Ammann, GM's president.

The autonomous revolution is almost upon us, and today General Motors is entering the fray properly with this, the Cruise AV. The vehicle GM plans to deploy, dubbed the Cruise AV, will reportedly be the "first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own".

"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, told reporters. It developed the vehicle in San Francisco.

The carmaker has announced their plans to launch a fully autonomous auto in 2019, one that does not feature a steering wheel, brake pads, or an accelerator pedal, a vehicle which will (hopefully) be part of the company's ride-sharing fleet.

Legislation pending in Congress would allow automakers to seek far broader exemptions from federal vehicle standards for self-driving vehicles and would limit states' powers to regulate the vehicles.

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Kyle Vogt, the CEO of Cruise Automation said during last November that their plans for self-driving deployment do not involve small-scale pilots, which raised questions on road safety.

The Cruise AV, based on the Chevrolet Bolt, utilizes five LiDARs, 16 cameras, and 21 radars-including articulating radars, long-range radars, and short-range radars-to ensure capabilities in complex environments. GM is asking for exceptions to rules around cars on roads that are specific to having humans at the wheel, and detailing their workarounds and safety measures. The San Francisco startup, which GM bought two years ago and has made the center of its self-driving efforts, originally worked to retrofit existing cars to be autonomous. For self-driving cars, these are "unintentional but necessary" barriers, he said, and the company is pushing for a change in the laws.

The carmaker's self-driving arm, Cruise Automation, on Friday unveiled the latest version of its autonomous vehicle - and the manual controls have been removed. They simply want to "meet that standard in a different kind of way".

In its proposal, GM asks the administration for alternative ways to meet the 16 federal driver-based requirements for operating on public roads.

General Motors hopes its new driverless electric vehicle, and others following it, will be part of a safer, cleaner and more efficient future that will lead the transition to a time without traffic jams.