General Motors and its autonomous driving subsidiary, Cruise, will soon apply for an exemption that will allow it to begin testing vehicles without a steering wheel or pedals on public roads in the United States.
In a Medium post published this week, Cruise’s vice president of government affairs, Robert Grant, said the automaker will apply for regulatory approval in the coming months with the intention of putting its Cruise Origin robotaxi on the streets in the not-too-distant future.
“If we want a better, cleaner, safer, and more affordable complement to our public transportation systems, we have to be relentless in our pursuit of the vehicle of tomorrow, rather than the car of today,” Grant said in the blog post. “To that end, we’re going all-in on our commitment to getting the Origin onto the roads of our cities.”
“And because the Origin does not have driver controls like a traditional car, in the coming months GM and Cruise will be filing an exemption petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeking regulatory approval for its deployment.”
GM will also withdraw the earlier exemption petition that it filed with NHTSA, which sought approval to test a Chevrolet Bolt EV-based prototype without a steering wheel or pedals. It seems this test vehicle, which was essentially a Cruise AV without traditional vehicle controls, will never see the light of day, with GM electing to jump straight to the Origin instead.
According to Reuters, GM plans to begin production of the Cruise Origin at its Factory Zero plant (formerly Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly) in Metro Detroit in “late 2021 or early 2022.” The Cruise Origin, which debuted earlier this year, is a fully autonomous four-seat robotaxi designed to operate within a geofenced area in city centers and other densely populated urban areas. The battery-electric shuttle rides on GM’s BEV3 dedicated electric vehicle platform.