Ford Motor and General Motors have applied to avail permits to deploy vehicles without human controls like brake pedals and steering wheels. Both of them plan to deploy 2,500 vehicles a year which is the maximum allowed under the law for ride-sharing and delivery services.
Neither of the companies has applied for permits to sell the self-driving vehicles. GM and its self-driving technology unit Cruise in February disclosed they petitioned NHTSA for permission to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals, or windshield wipers.
Ford’s petition, submitted in July 2021, was previously undisclosed until NHTSA’s publication Wednesday. Ford has said it intended to deploy a self-driving ride-hailing and package delivery vehicle early in this decade. The automaker told NHTSA for its self-driving vehicles “having active driving controls and communications would introduce an unacceptable risk to safety.” GM wants to deploy the Origin, a vehicle with subway-like doors and no steering wheels. GM says the vehicles will require all passengers to buckle seat belts prior to the start of their autonomous ride.
In 2018, GM petitioned NHTSA to allow a car built on a Chevrolet Bolt without steering wheels or brake pedals on U.S. roads. In late 2020, GM withdrew the petition. GM said Wednesday 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 wants to deploy self-driving hybrid-electric vehicles “specifically designed and tailored to support mobility services such as ride-sharing, ride-hailing, and package delivery.” 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.”
GM and Cruise petitioned the NHTSA for approval to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals, or windshield wipers. GM wants to deploy Origin, a vehicle that has no steering wheel and doors that resemble that of a subway. It said that the vehicles will require all passengers to buckle their seat belts before the vehicle starts. The company said that it continues to work with the NHTSA “as their review continues and remain eager in seeing the fully autonomous Cruise Origin on the road in the years to come.”