General Motors to roll out first market-ready self-driving car in 2019

The first market-ready self-driving car will roll out of a General Motors Co facility. The company submitted its federal safety proposal yesterday to put a robotic vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal on public roads in 2019.

In its petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company said it seeks to deploy the autonomous cars, built on the Chevrolet Bolt EV platform, next year and has asked for permission to meet 16 safety requirements ''in a different way,'' Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's chief counsel and public policy director for transportation and service, said on a conference call.

The Detroit automaker is looking to meet its deadline for deploying a driverless ride-hailing service next year in a yet-to-be-named city. In the event of approval to its petition, the automaker could build up to 2,500 of these vehicles per year, though it has to yet commit to a firm production plan.

If the Cruise AV were to hit the road as planned, it would prove to be three-in-one package, a driverless car summoned by an on-demand ride-hailing service powered by an all-electric powertrain.

According to commentators gaining federal approval, however, is not a small step; it is also not certain.

''What's really special about this is if you look back 20 years from now, it's the first car without a steering wheel and pedals,'' said Kyle Vogt, chief executive officer of Cruise Automation, the San Francisco-based unit developing the software for GM's self-driving cars.

The company will run the cars in a test batch for a ride-sharing programme, which is to start in 2019, but there will be a safety net. The vehicles will travel on a fixed route controlled by their mapping system, and the Detroit-based automaker is seeking federal permission to run the test cars without a driver.