General Motors is ready to start building their first completely driver-free autonomous vehicle. They just need permission from the US Department of Transportation first.
GM posted an interior photo of a Bolt EV this morning with a difference. No steering wheel, no pedals, no manual controls. Well, except for the radio and climate controls.
They're calling it the Cruise AV, named for the Cruise Automation subsidiary that did the design and development of the car's autonomous features.
The company says that the fully autonomous car is ready for prime time, calling it "the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own."
Before the Cruise AV can hit the road, it needs regulatory approval. In the US, that means permission from the DOT. So GM has filed a safety petition to get the go-ahead to deploy. If they receive permission, GM plans to put the Cruise AV on the road next year. The self-driving Bolt prototypes were built alongside the standard Bolt EV at GM's Orion assembly plant, which helps the company bring cars to market more quickly. It also means that GM can build lots of Cruise AVs, quickly.
That would put GM well ahead of the competition when it comes to fully autonomous cars. Other automakers talk about 2020-2022 or later when it comes to launching their first driverless car.
GM's current AV testing is limited to geofenced areas of San Francisco and Phoenix. The automaker didn't say if their production vehicle plans included similar limitations.