General Motors is building an autonomous car without the pedals or a steering wheel. The company claims it is the first mass production self-driving car without these features, signaling a brave step into the future where passengers are whisked around cities by in-car computer systems.
AP reported on Friday that General Motors’ Cruise Automation division will carry passengers in autonomous cars without any driver to take over in the year 2019. The division will use autonomous Chevrolet Bolts, currently undergoing internal testing now, but the company has yet to reveal how many vehicles it plans to make.
Cruise Automation has gone from strength to strength ever since its acquisition by General Motors in March 2016 for a price “north of $1 billion.” The company has developed a system where passengers hail an autonomous car through the Cruise app, similar to Uber or Lyft.
Watch the autonomous car system tackle the streets of San Francisco in the company video below:
In November 2017, the company gave demos of its autonomous test fleet in San Francisco, with the team claiming the vehicles would be fully ready in a matter of quarters rather than years. In one 20-minute demo drive, the vehicle successfully avoided crashing into 114 cars, four bikes and countless San Francisco pedestrians.
Of course, General Motors also needs to work around government regulation. The company claimed on Friday that it has filed a petition asking the federal government to put cars on the roads without human drivers as soon as next year.
General Motors’ vehicle won’t be the first without steering wheels or pedals. Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary that started like as Google’s internal autonomous car project, has produced such vehicles in limited quantities. Ford has also patented a modular system that would allow a driver to remove the steering wheel and pedals by themselves. The future is looking very pedal-free.