GM will put a few of its self-driving cars on the roads as soon as the law makers in Washington approve of a few changes. (All images via GM)
At a time when the world is barely adhering to the concept of renewable and sustainable energy, the automobile industry is not only taking the lead with electric cars, but few players are pushing further with the self-driving car. While Tesla Motors is ruling the electric car universe, others like GM, Ford, Google with Chrysler are taking over the autonomous vehicle sector.
Recently, General Motors revealed that it has finalized its electric cars and is awaiting the "green light" from the government to put a few of the vehicles on the roads. GM's electric car is a Chevy Bolt named Cruise; and as the title "self-driving" suggests, there is no backup driver. Built with that concept in mind, the car doesn't come with a steering wheel. And that is one of the reasons why GM needs approval from the government, precisely from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Being a revolution in the automobile industry, Cruise will require a new set of rules for both automakers and car users. For example, since the usual driver seat becomes a passenger seat inside Cruise, the MHTSA has to approve of the new airbag system, as well as the break system since there is no more pedal in the car. In total, GM is awaiting modification on about 16 regulations in order to launch Cruise. The giant has not announced where it plans to test the robot-car, but intend to have 2500 cars on the roads as soon as it gets the approval of the government. Cruise might change the face of more than one industry, given that GM designed it for ridesharing.
Not sure if I would feel completely at ease sitting in this ride. Especially at highway speeds.
Although GM seems very confident about its new "baby," there are few questions that are probably in the mind of everyone. What kind of experience can disable people expect from Cruise? In case of accidents, what is the protocol? Will GM partner with ridesharing companies for users to have access to Cruise? Why should a rider use Cruise instead of the traditional ridesharing option?
General Motors has designed an app that riders will use to request a ride with Cruise, and users will have the opportunity to test the app and provide feedback when the 2500 cars get on the road. Riders can rejoice about Cruise because no-driver also means that every car will seat 5 passengers. In other words, a group of friends or family won't have to split to travel during their outings. General Motors also has a solution for emergencies: the automaker has incorporated a software inside Cruise, the OnStar system, which will contact the emergency services in case of an accident. It is probable that the legendary automaker is pushing for the response from the NHTSA so that it could have more information on how to improve the car and make it available to the public as soon as possible. One thing GM can be confident about is that Cruise is an opportunity to provide ridesharing in areas where most drivers don't feel safe in.
The world is certainly looking forward to using Cruise, as well as all the other self-driving cars coming soon on the market. However, for now, no decision can be made as far as who is winning the race between GM, Google with Waymo, Uber and Ford.
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