Cruise & GM, seek regulatory approval for self-driving vehicles without pedals & steering wheel

In a significant development, self-driving carmaker Cruise stated, along with its majority shareholder General Motors Co, it is seeking U.S. regulatory approval for deploying a limited number of Cruise Origin vehicles which will not feature pedals or steering wheels.

At the same time, it plans on withdrawing an exemption petition filed which it had filed in January 2018, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) towards seeking approval for deploying a limited number of similar autonomous vehicles based on the Chevrolet Bolt platform.

NHTSA, which spent 15 months reviewing GM’s petition before seeking public comment, stated, it “will review the new petition when it is received.”

Earlier this year, Cruise unveiled the Origin, which only has two long seats facing each other; the electric vehicles can comfortably accommodate four passengers. The company plans on producing the Origin in Detroit in late 2021 or early 2022.

Robert Grant, Cruise’s vice president of global government affairs, made the announcement after the company received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles last week.

Under current law, companies can seek an exemption from motor vehicle safety standards for up to 2,500 vehicles for up to two years that do not meet existing federal rules.

The exemptions are for U.S. vehicle safety rules largely written decades ago that assumed human drivers would be in control of a vehicle.

In 2018, GM had sought a temporary waiver on features like mirrors, dashboard warning lights and turn signals, instruments that are used by human drivers for navigating.

NHTSA has been considering revising auto safety rules to remove “unnecessary regulatory barriers to the safe introduction of automated driving systems.”

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