The New Year has just begun, but General Motors is already looking toward 2019, when it will take the next step for its self-driving cars. It plans to release the Cruise AV, a self-driving car without a steering wheel, pedals or any of the standard driver controls.
The news comes from a GM announcement about its safety petition to the US Department of Transportation for permission to put the Cruise AV on roads as early as next year.
GM acquired Cruise Automation in 2016, and since then Cruise has worked on its technology. Driverless vehicles powered by Cruise are already on the roads in California, Arizona and Michigan for testing, and these car may soon be in New York City.
The big difference between the existing Cruise vehicles and the upcoming Cruise AV is that this new version, the fourth generation, will be the first production-ready model purpose-built to drive itself.
GM envisions the Cruise AV reducing traffic accidents, giving back the time riders spend stuck in traffic, offering greater mobility for elderly or physically impaired passengers and making the hunt for parking a thing of the past.
Assuming the DOT approves GM's safety petition, we could all be driving alongside robots next year.