Per previous GM Authority coverage, General Motors’ Cruise Origin autonomous robotaxi is expected to begin production in a few months. Now, it seems as though Cruise has hit a roadblock in approval to kick off production, as GM seeks an exemption from NHTSA federal safety standards.
According to a report from Detroit Free Press, the Cruise Origin’s lack of manual steering controls or pedals and the associated safety-related questions pose as a potential obstruction to getting approval for use on public roads. Historically, the NHSTA has well-defined guidelines imposed on the expectations of vehicle safety, but autonomous vehicles are a new grey area for the organization.
“I want these things built at Factory Zero because it means 2,000 union jobs,” U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell said. “But we have to update the laws. Right now, current motor vehicle safety regulations require there be a driving wheel, accelerator and a brake, among other things. So what does the AV need? We need to update the motor vehicle standards.”
It’s worth noting that GM plans to produce the Cruise Origin at the Factory Zero plant in Michigan.
As a reminder, GM unveiled the Cruise Origin self-driving “robotaxi” back in January 2020. Since then, The General has been testing and developing the necessary technology through the use of Cruise AVs, which are actually modified Chevy Bolt EVs. In fact, Cruise has already logged more than 500,000 driverless miles.
More recently, GM Authority photographers captured a prototype of the Cruise Origin AV undergoing testing at the GM Proving Ground in July 2022. Notably, this particular unit had a human driver, indicating that it may have been testing the onboard steering, braking, and propulsion systems, and not the fully autonomous technology.