GM and Ford are asking U.S. auto safety regulators to grant exemptions to be able to deploy a limited number of self-driving vehicles without human controls like steering wheels and brake pedals.
GM and its self-driving technology unit, Cruise, petitioned National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in February for permission to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals or windshield wipers.
Ford petitioned NHTSA in July 2021, to deploy a self-driving ride hailing and package delivery vehicle early in this decade. The automaker stressed that for its self-driving vehicles "having active driving controls and communications would introduce an unacceptable risk to safety."
NHTSA has published the separate petitions and opened them for public comment for 30 days.
The regulatory body has the authority to grant petitions that allow a limited number of vehicles to operate on U.S. roads without required human controls. The automakers want to deploy up to 2,500 vehicles a year, the maximum allowed under the law, for ride sharing and delivery services. Neither GM nor Ford seek approval to sell self-driving vehicles to consumers.
GM seeks to deploy the Origin, with automated doors and no steering wheels. The automaker stressed the vehicles will require passengers to buckle up before the autonomous ride.
Ford wants to deploy self-driving hybrid-electric vehicles that are "specifically designed and tailored to support mobility services such as ride sharing, ride hailing and package delivery."
According to a Ford spokesperson, 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."
The NHTSA will carefully examine each petition to keep safety a priority and to ensure access for people with disabilities, equity and the environment.