While fully autonomous transportation seemed like it belonged only in science fiction or the distant future not so long ago, General Motors (GM) plans to make it reality as early as next year.
According to Reuters, GM announced that it is currently engaged in final the stages of regulatory approval. Pending government approval, GM intends to release its completely self-driving Cruise AV to the market in 2019.
Other traditional automotive manufacturers, such as Ford (NYSE:F) or Audi (FWB: NSU), and new car companies like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), as well as tech companies like Alphabet/Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), have worked on driverless vehicles technologies for years. However, their approach was generally to offer autonomous driving as a supplementary feature for conventional driver-centric vehicles.
GM’s latest entry into the market appears to be the first production-ready vehicle designed with autonomous driving as its primary and only function. The GM Cruise AV has no steering wheeling, pedals or any other driver controls. The seat traditionally designated for a driver is just another passenger seat.
Unfortunately for all looking forward to relaxing and reading a book or catching up on their social media updates during their morning commute, GM’s plans are not in the clear just yet. The vehicle currently does not comply with all the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements, which were created with conventional vehicles in mind.
One of GM’s options is to request an exemption, but the DOT has an annual quota of only 2,500 exemptions, which might be only a temporary solution. Therefore, while awaiting additional government rulings on its requests, GM is working on engineering conventional solutions to meet all current requirements.
Dan Ammann, GM’s president, explained in a statement, “What we can do is put the equivalent of the passenger side airbag on that side as well… to meet the standards.”
As of the market’s close on January 11, 2018, General Motors Company’s share price was up more than 18% over the past 12 months and has been trading at all-time high levels since October 2017.