General Motors and its Cruise subsidiary have announced plans to seek approval from U.S. regulators to test its self-driving Cruise Origin on public streets. The origin would be the first self-driving vehicle to hit public streets without a steering wheel or pedals.
Cruise will have to file for an exemption from U.S. auto safety regulations for the Origin with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in order to actual begin testing on public roads. The exemption effectively negates safety rules that were designed with the assumption of a human driver, such as mirrors and a steering wheel.
As part of the exemption filing, GM and Cruise say they will withdraw an exemption filed in January 2018 to test a self-driving vehicle based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV. NHTSA reviewed the application for exemption for 15 months.
Under current rules, automakers can seek exemptions from NHTSA for up to 2,500 vehicles that do not adhere to safety regulations for a two-year duration.
The Cruise Origin is essentially a battery-electric small pod that can carry up to four passengers. GM and Cruise plan to begin building the Origin in Detroit in late 2021 or early 2022. If approved for an exemption from NHTSA, GM and Cruise plan to test the Origin in Silicon Valley.