Financial Times -- General Motors on Friday revealed images of a self-driving car without either a steering wheel or pedals and applied for regulatory permission to put it on US roads in 2019, the first established carmaker to publicise an apparently production-ready model without driver controls. The Detroit company released photos and a video of the new Cruise AV self-driving car, which Dan Ammann, GM president, said was the group’s “first production-ready vehicle designed from the start without steering wheel” and manual controls. Speaking in a briefing, he said the car, developed with Cruise Automation, GM’s autonomous vehicle arm, represented the fourth generation of GM autonomous car development in 18 months, adding “the fourth generation will not be the last generation”.
In November GM said it would deploy fully autonomous cars in 2019 for public ride-sharing. The race for dominance in self-driving cars has accelerated this month with many carmakers converging on the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off their plans. The public relations skirmishes between hometown rivals Ford and GM over this issue have been especially intense in recent months, and could explain GM’s decision to reveal the Cruise AV on Friday, automotive analysts said. Ford this week announced an ambitious vision for autonomous vehicle development at the Las Vegas show, including enabling its cars to communicate with transportation infrastructure such as traffic lights, and a new partnership to use self-driving cars for goods delivery. But the carmaker has stopped short of revealing a production-ready model without steering wheel or pedals to the public. Kyle Vogt, chief executive of GM’s Cruise Automation, said it was a “major milestone” to create a production-ready vehicle with no manual controls, but said the car was not expected to be on public roads, even for testing, before 2019. GM has not said when it will begin producing the vehicles.