GM to launch driverless car without steering wheel or pedals by 2019

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THE FIRST mass-produced driverless car without a steering wheel will be made by General Motors, which says that it aims to have the vehicles on US roads next year.

The car, a new version of the $36,600 Chevrolet Bolt, will not be sold to the public but will be summoned through a ride-sharing service. Analysts said the announcement was significant because until now trials have either converted ordinary cars or used ungainly prototypes never intended for production.

Trials of driverless ride-sharing services have mostly had backup drivers to take control in case of malfunctions.

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GM has requested exemptions from rules requiring the inclusion of driving controls, arguing that they are obsolete. Experts said that the request would probably be looked on favourably, given the US federal government’s backing for autonomous vehicles.

Manufacturers are looking at on-demand services as the future of cars, replacing ownership. Jim Hackett, Ford’s chief executive, spoke at this year’s CES technology show in Las Vegas of the need for car-sharing, ride-hailing and public transport schemes to reduce congestion and pollution.

Mark Bridge

This article first appeared in The Times