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GM's 'Eerie' New Car: Look, Ma, No Steering Wheel

Newser — Jenn Gidman

But what do you do with your hands? A question usually reserved for people posing for photographs or performing a monologue can now be asked by potential buyers of General Motors' newest self-driving car.

That's because the latest incarnation has no steering wheel, or accelerator or brake pedal, swapping out those manual controls for interior screens, CNN reports. The layout, which the Verge calls "kind of eerie," features a dashboard with a console situated smack in the middle of the driver and passenger seats, with nothing but "blank real estate" in front of both.

The revamped electric Chevy Bolt from Cruise Automation, GM's autonomous-vehicle arm, is set to be tested in 2019 and will eventually be shipped out to serve in ride-hailing services in certain US cities.

"It's an interesting thing to share with everybody," GM President Dan Ammann says.

But there are some logistical hurdles for GM to clear for what Wired calls its "robo-chariot," including getting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to let 2,500 of the cars (the maximum number allowed) off the hook on 16 safety requirements, such as having an airbag in the steering wheel—moot as there's no steering wheel.

The company's petition to the NHTSA doesn't ask for an exemption per se, Ammann explains, but simply the ability to meet the safety standards in different ways (such as putting that aforementioned airbag on the driver's side where the steering wheel would have been).

Per the Financial Times, which notes this is the fourth generation of the company's autonomous car in just 18 months, Ammann suggests more innovations may be forthcoming, noting that "the fourth generation will not be the last generation."

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