In January 2018, General Motors unveiled Cruise AV, its first production-intent vehicle designed to operate without a driver. It featured no steering wheel, pedals, or other manual controls. That same month, the Detroit automaker submitted a Safety Petition to the United States Department of Transportation for permission to deploy the vehicle on public roads. Finally, the petition is moving to the public comment phase where anyone can chime in on GM’s request, according to The Detroit News. The comment period is open for 60 days.
“The Department is actively seeking public comment on proposed exemptions to federal standards and how the public can be protected as new transportation technologies emerge,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao in a statement announcing the comment period.
GM and Cruise Automation, it’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, want to launch a driverless taxi service sometime this year. While GM wants to deploy its Cruise AV without manual controls, the automaker said it could implement its service with Cruise AV vehicles that still have manual controls.
Cruise Automation is key to GM’s future autonomous vehicle development as the automaker restructures its business model to support autonomous and electric vehicle development in the coming years. One key piece to GM’s plan is launching its driverless ride-sharing service that’ll likely begin in San Francisco sometime later this year. GM is quickly expanding its Cruise Automation presence in San Francisco, Seattle, and Pasadena with plans to double its staff by the end of the year.
It’s not clear how long after the comment period closes the U.S. Department of Transportation will take to grant GM’s petition to circumvent existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Back when GM submitted its petition, Chao said, “It is now coming to the stage with the rapid advancement of self-driving technology that this request is now a reality.”