General Motors' initial fleet of autonomous vehicles for public use will "most likely" include manual controls such as steering wheels and pedals, according to the company's head of electric and autonomous vehicles.
GM last year requested federal approval to launch such a fleet with its fourth-generation Cruise AV that does not include manual controls as early as this year. However, the U.S. government has been slow to grant safety exemptions for the vehicles, which do not meet existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
"Until we have exemptions, which we filed a petition for, and/or law changes, we probably wouldn't go forward with Gen 4," Doug Parks, GM vice president of autonomous and electric vehicle programs, said Thursday during the 2019 RBC Capital Markets Future of Mobility Conference in Palo Alto, Calif. "But we think it's really something we've got to talk about, we've got to work on."
GM had not previously said it would exclusively launch the fleet without manual controls; however, the petition indicated GM sought to launch the vehicles in 2019 — the same year the company intended to launch the commercial service.
GM is testing its third-generation autonomous vehicles primarily in San Francisco, home of its GM Cruise autonomous vehicle operations.
The city is where the company is expected to initially launch the autonomous ride-hailing fleet.