GM CEO Mary Barra met with Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to discuss changes to legislation that would make it easier for autonomous vehicles (AVs) to get approval for operation on U.S. roads.
GM says Mary Barra and the senators met on Thursday, March 16th, 2023 as the American government continues to postpone action on new AV legislation. Reuters, reporting on the matter, points out Congress has not moved forward with the legislation for six years.
One of the senators Barra met, Maria Cantwell, is Senate Commerce Committee Chair. The other, Gary Peters, is also on the Commerce Committee and is strongly in favor of approving self-driving autonomous vehicles for use on America’s streets and roads. He also hails from Michigan, where GM autonomous vehicle production will take place at the GM Factory Zero plant, previously known as Detroit-Hamtramck.
“The future of mobility – including autonomous vehicles” is in the balance according to Sen. Peters, who also said the government “must act to ensure U.S. manufacturers can compete with countries like China, create jobs here and improve roadway safety.”
GM is eager to deploy its Cruise Origin autonomous robotaxis to more U.S. cities and is seeking to set lawmakers into motion to pass the necessary legislation to enable wider AV deployment.
GM’s autonomous vehicle division, Cruise, has already deployed self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs in San Francisco and elsewhere, alongside a human-driven version of the Cruise Origin. It is bringing its robotaxi service to Phoenix, Arizona and Austin, Texas and wants to add deployments to even more cities in 2023.
Though Cruise is poised to roll out its Cruise Origin fleet, legislative hurdles still remain. Despite the statements by Cruise that its test AVs have driven “700,000 fully autonomous miles in an extremely complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a probe into the safety of Cruise and its vehicles.
GM also needs NHTSA approval to move ahead with Cruise Origin production and deployment. Currently, The General will need an exemption from the agency’s safety standards in order to build or deploy its dedicated AV robotaxi. These facts highlight the urgency of Mary Barra’s efforts to get legislative action on easier AV approval.
Built from the ground up as an autonomous vehicle rather than being a modification of an existing human-driven model, the Cruise Origin will be based on the GM BEV3 platform. It will be powered with Ultium Battery technology and Ultium Drive motors. Production is expected to begin later this year at the Factory Zero plant.