US expands public input to self-driving petitions from GM and Ford

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A Cruise self-driving car, which is owned by General Motors Corp, is seen outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, where it does most of its testing, in California, U.S. September 26, 2018. Picture taken September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Heather Somerville/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Aug 18 (Reuters) – U.S. auto safety regulators will extend the deadline for public comment on petitions by General Motors (GM.N) and Ford Motor (FN) to roll out a limited number of self-driving vehicles without human control like steering wheels and brake pedals.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Thursday extended public comment on automaker requests for 30 days after cities including San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., state transportation agencies, the National Association of City Transportation Officials and others have asked for more. time to analyze exemption requests.

San Francisco said the petitions raise “numerous complex technical and policy issues involving vehicle safety that require in-depth analysis.”

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San Francisco noted that “this is where automated vehicle testing is most intensive to date…As such, we have valuable insights to offer and stand to be significantly impacted by the result of the petition”.

The NHTSA has the authority to grant petitions to allow a limited number of vehicles to operate on US roads with no human checks required.

The two automakers want to deploy up to 2,500 vehicles a year, the maximum allowed by law, for ride-sharing and delivery services. Neither is seeking permission to sell self-driving vehicles to consumers.

GM and its Cruise self-driving technology unit revealed in February that it had applied to NHTSA for permission to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals or windshield wipers.

Ford’s petition submitted in July 2021 had not been disclosed until NHTSA’s publication last month.

Ford announced plans to roll out an autonomous package carrier and delivery vehicle earlier this decade.

GM wants to roll out its Origin vehicle, which has subway-style doors and no steering wheel. GM says the vehicles will require passengers to buckle their seatbelts before self-driving rides.

In 2018, GM petitioned NHTSA to allow a car built on a Chevrolet Bolt without a steering wheel or brake pedal on US roads. At the end of 2020, GM withdrew the petition.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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