General Motors and Ford Motor have asked U.S. auto safety regulators to grant exemptions to deploy a limited number of self-driving vehicles without human controls like steering wheels and brake pedals.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday published the separate petitions and opened them for public comment for 30 days.
NHTSA has authority to grant petitions to allow a limited number of vehicles to operate on U.S. roads without required human controls. Both automakers want to deploy up to 2,500 vehicles a year, the maximum allowed under the law, for ride sharing and delivery services. Neither seek approval to sell self-driving vehicles to consumers.
The vehicle proposed by GM will not have steering wheels, pedals, manual turn signals and mirrors, while the one offered by Ford is envisaged for the automated system to give commands for braking, throttle and steering.
Ford has said it intended to deploy a self-driving ride hailing and package delivery vehicle early in this decade.
Argo AI, the driverless startup backed by Ford and Volkswagen Group, began testing self-driving vehicles in Miami and Austin, Texas, in May without a human behind the wheel.
GM wants to deploy the Origin, a vehicle with subway-like doors and no steering wheels. GM says the vehicles will require all passengers to buckle seat belts prior to the start of their autonomous ride.
NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said the agency “will carefully examine each petition to ensure safety is prioritized and to include considerations of access for people with disabilities, equity and the environment.”
Ford’s petition, submitted in July 2021, was previously undisclosed until NHTSA’s publication Wednesday.
A Ford spokesperson said the “petition is an important step toward helping create a regulatory path that allows autonomous technologies to mature over time, eliminating controls and displays that are only useful to human drivers.”
GM and its self-driving technology unit Cruise in February disclosed they petitioned NHTSA for permission to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals or windshield wipers.
In 2018, GM petitioned NHTSA to allow a car built on a Chevrolet Bolt without steering wheels or brake pedals on U.S. roads. In late 2020, GM withdrew the petition.
GM said Wednesday it continues to work with NHTSA “as their review continues and remain eager in seeing the fully autonomous Cruise Origin on the road in the years to come.”
Bloomberg contributed to this report