Company President Dan Ammann told reporters GM had filed for government approval to deploy the "first production-ready vehicle designed from the start without a steering wheel, pedals or other unnecessary manual controls".
At a November 30 briefing, GM's Mr. Ammann told investors the lifetime revenue generation of one of its self-driving cars could eventually be "several hundred thousands of dollars". The Detroit automaker has been testing self-driving Bolts in various urban locations, but has had backup or safety drivers in the front seat.
Since acquiring Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based startup in 2016, GM and Cruise developed four generations of self-driving vehicles. Similar petitions would also be sent to local transportation authorities, but GM said that seven states already permit the changes they needed to test the Cruise AV.
TechCrunch reported the Cruise AV is based on the Bolt electric vehicle platform and can even close the doors of passengers who don't. The move is a bold one, however, since all self-driving cars to date have had the safety features that enable the driver to take back control should an incident arise.
To get its cars on the public road there are many hurdles for GM to clear.
Those cities are expected to add new and different challenges for the self-driving auto.
Late past year, Waymo started an autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix using a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan. You can also input your destination through the app and the auto will safely, silently usher you along. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the federal body that will have the final say on the matter.
Manufacturers can get around those standards by petitioning NHTSA for exemptions, provided they demonstrate that the exempted vehicle will be at least as safe as a conventional one.
GM has announced, as Motor Trend notes in its coverage of the FMVSS application, that testing will expand to Phoenix early this year and New York City before the end of 2018. That's the maximum number the government will now allow for each manufacturer.