General Motors has filed an application to the US Department of Transportation for permission to deploy a driverless vehicle with no steering wheel during 2019.
The Safety Petition is for its fourth-generation self-driving Cruise AV, which it says is the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.
It initially be used for a commercial ride hailing service.
Self-driving technology “is only going to have a big impact if we can deploy it at large scale,” The New York Times quotes GM’s chief financial officer, Dan Ammann, as saying in an interview. “We intend to launch a commercial ride-share service at commercial scale in 2019. That will begin in one city and scale up in that city and move to other cities after that.”
The New York Times adds that, if approved, the Cruise AVs would probably appear first in San Francisco or Scottsdale, Ariz., where GM’s self-driving subsidiary, Cruise Automation, is conducting tests. In San Francisco, the division has set up a ride-hailing service using about 50 Cruise AVs, although the cars are available only for some of its 250 employees, not public customers.