GM and Ford seek NHTSA exemptions to test autonomous cars without manual controls

If General Motors and Ford get their way, they may soon be testing autonomous vehicles without certain manual controls on public roads.

According to Steven Cliff, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the two automakers have applied for exemptions from US authorities to ease some regulations governing the testing of autonomous vehicles.

GM wants to test a vehicle without a steering wheel, pedals, manual turn signals, or mirrors. In a notice posted to the NHTSA website, the company says they want a two-year exemption to “manufacture not more than 2,500 exempted vehicles for each 12-month period covered by the exemption.”

According to the notice, that vehicle will be the Cruise Origin, a “multipurpose passenger vehicle equipped with a Level 4 Automated Driving System (ADS).”

Separately, Ford has also requested an exemption to test an autonomous vehicle that “lack[s] certain vehicle controls, telltales, and indicators.”

The company is also seeking a two-year exemption to produce 2,500 or fewer exempt vehicles per year. The notice did not detail what this vehicle may be due to Ford seeking “confidential treatment of some aspects of its petition,” but did say it will be a “hybrid-electric vehicle platform that has been specifically designed and tailored to support mobility services such as ride sharing, ride hailing and package delivery.”

It was also explained that the vehicle will be equipped with a SAE Level 4 ADS feature.

Both notices requesting the exemptions were posted to the NHTSA website on Wednesday, and they will be open for public comment for 30 days, after which time they will be reviewed by the NHTSA.

“Once the comment period closes, NHTSA will review these comments, evaluate the petitions’ merits, and determine whether granting them is in the public interest. Safety will be paramount as we decide whether to grant or deny these petitions,” Cliff told Bloomberg.

You can read the two notices below.



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