General Motors unveiled the Cruise AV, a self-driving electric vehicle based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV that has no steering wheel nor pedals.
GM is apparently fully confident in the self-driving capabilities of the Cruise AV, as there will be no way for humans to take control of the vehicle. The question now is whether humans are willing to place complete trust on a computer for their road safety.
General Motors Cruise AV: Ready For Production
General Motors filed a safety petition with the U.S. Department of Transportation for the fourth-generation self-driving Cruise AV. The automobile manufacturer describes the electric vehicle as "the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own," as the Cruise AV has no steering wheel, pedals, and other manual controls used by drivers.
In self-driving technology terms, the Cruise AV will exhibit what is known as "level 4 autonomy." GM is one of the companies testing the technology, alongside others that include Google parent Alphabet's Waymo and California-based startup Zoox.
GM, however, might beat all the other to the punch in getting a fully autonomous vehicle to customers for public use. The company is planning to mass produce the Cruise AV as soon as next year.
"We view this as being a very important next step in our plan to deploy self-driving vehicles at scale in 2019 and it's all part of our mission to move to a world of zero crashes," said GM head of storytelling and advanced technology communications Ray Wert.
GM will release the Cruise AV, without the steering wheel and pedals, in a test batch for a ride-sharing program starting in 2019. The vehicles will be traveling on a fixed route and will be controlled by a mapping system.
Is The GM Cruise AV's Self-Driving Technology Safe?
Customers may find it difficult to trust their lives to self-driving technology, especially after various reports on crashes involving autonomous vehicles. Perhaps the most high-profile incident was the first self-driving car fatality in a crash of a Tesla Model S while it was in Autopilot mode back in mid-2016, but big names such as Google and Uber have also experienced their own accidents.
However, in the 2018 Self-Driving Safety Report released by General Motors, the company noted that 1.25 million people die from car crashes every year across the world and that in 94 percent of these accidents, human error was a major contributing factor. GM believes that taking human error out of the equation will result in safer roads for everyone.
Kyle Vogt, the CEO of Cruise Automation, which is the unit developing the technology for the self-driving vehicles of GM, said that the Cruise AV will have redundant systems as backup to the main driving system. If the vehicle detects a problem, it will slow down and pull over to the roadside.
The Cruise AV was also designed to operate safely even in the presence of reckless drivers, pedestrians, and construction works.
Will you climb into a Cruise AV given the chance? Let us know in the comments section.