General Motors and Ford have asked U.S. auto safety regulators to allow exemptions to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels and brake pedals, according to a report by Reuters.
Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the separate petitions and opened them for public comment for 30 days. NHTSA can grant petitions to allow a limited number of vehicles to operate on U.S. roads without required steering wheels and brake pedals.
Both GM and Ford want to launch up to 2,500 vehicles per year, the maximum allowed under the law, for ridesharing and delivery services, according to the report. Neither automaker is looking for approval to sell self-driving vehicles to consumers.
In February, GM (and its self-driving unit Cruise) petitioned NHTSA for permission to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals, or windshield wipers. Submitted in July 2021, Ford’s petition was undisclosed until NHTSA’s recent publication, says the report.
GM wants to deploy the Origin, a vehicle with subway-like doors and no steering wheels. GM said it continues to work with NHTSA “as their review continues and remain eager in seeing the fully autonomous Cruise Origin on the road in the years to come.”
Ford hopes to deploy self-driving hybrid-electric vehicles “specifically designed and tailored to support mobility services such as ridesharing, ride hailing, and package delivery,” according to the report. A Ford spokesperson said the “petition is an important step toward helping create a regulatory path that allows autonomous technologies to mature over time, eliminating controls and displays that are only useful to human drivers.”
NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said the agency “will carefully examine each petition to ensure safety is prioritized and to include considerations of access for people with disabilities, equity, and the environment.”
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