GM is dropping the steering wheel in autonomous cars

(CBS) – General Motors (GM) says it is mass-producing autonomous cars that give complete control to the machine by taking away both the steering wheel and pedals.

The company says it has filed a petition with the federal government seeking permission to put the vehicles on the road sometime next year with no human backup drivers.

GM’s Cruise Automation unit has announced plans to carry passengers in self-driving cars that won’t have a backup driver in 2019. The location of the service has not been revealed. GM and other companies have tested autonomous cars on the road, yet the vehicles typically have an engineer behind the wheel, reading to take over in case the need arises.

“What’s really special about this is if you look back 20 years from now, it’s the first car without a steering wheel and pedals,” Kyle Vogt, chief executive officer of Cruise Automation, told Bloomberg News. Cruise Automation is developing the software for GM’s self-driving cars.

GM spokesman Kevin Kelly says the first of the autonomous Chevrolet Bolts is being tested. He says the company isn’t announcing how many will be made.

The automaker’s autonomous car tests were involved in 22 accidents in California in 2017, according to Bloomberg News, which cited the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The company has said the accidents weren’t caused by any of the GM cars.

Waymo, which used to be the autonomous car arm of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has made a limited number of autonomous vehicles without steering wheels and pedals.

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