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GM plans to release cars with no steering wheel in 2019 (engadget.com)
21 points by tancik 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

As autonomous cars go, I'm in the "maybe in 20 years" camp. So if GM offers these for sale by 1/1/2020, I'll eat literal crow (cooked, please; don't want disease). Given that, here's my cynical take: GM knows full well the Feds aren't going to approve this by next year, giving them cover when the car isn't ready.

OTOH, if I can buy a car with no steering wheel nor pedals, and it can take from my home in Redmond to, say, Seattle without my intervention, then I will happily throw a little Tabasco on that baked crow while I open a browser to order one.

20 years? You're off by 19 years and 11 months. Waymo's public pilot is scheduled to remove the test drivers in February.

It remains to be seen whether GM can hit their targets, but they're coming along pretty well. If you're a man of your word there's a good chance you'll end up eating crow.

Public taxi services in clement weather with on-board backup drivers is a far, far cry from full legal, hands-off autonomy.

I was in a similar camp until I understood the actual tech the most advanced companies are working with.

While all the hype is about "autonomous" what these actually are is very sophisticated remote control cars running on "digital train tracks" with humans continually monitoring and able to intervene in whatever they do.

Full autonomous, the way it is hyped, is still "maybe in 20 years" but there are other ways to skin the cat.

None of the articles I’ve seen make any mention of remote control on the Cruise AV. Or any other autonomous car.

They will have remote control functionality. Probably more like a kill switch than actual remote driving. Something that allows the vehicle to execute a "safe" shutdown maneuver in case of system malfunction.

They will be remotely monitored 100% of the time, for various reasons. I expect in the beginning there will be lots of awkward "Please stop having sex in the car" intercom moments.

> None of the articles I’ve seen make any mention

It is "counter-narrative" so it will never be brought up unless someone specifically asks, and then they will try to spin it to mislead you, but that is just standard PR.

Both Waymo and Cruise are building out remote call centres, with people who answer provide passenger assistance and intervene during emergencies.

GM released a report today that outines their plans fairly comprehensively:


Wow, I viewed the interior of this vehicle and I had a visceral reaction of stark fear imagining myself riding in it. Does anyone else react like this?

Why are we still facing all the seats forward then? Is this by regulation? Why not rethink seating to be more communal and comfortable.

1. They may want to introduce change gradually.

2. They’re probably well aware of the ample research into motion sickness. Not being able to see the direction of travel appears to increase the risk of symptoms for many.

Sample citations (you can find many more via a Google Scholar search):



I don't disagree, but this was a cheap way to reuse existing R&D, like the front airbags specifically mentioned in the article.

Every now and then, various concepts come out with a cabin that has two rows of seats facing each other. These would require a much more radical (and expensive) redesign, and it may not even pass a baseline required by contemporary regulations without additional back-and-forth.

Because it's a variation on the Bolt, which isn't designed to accomodate that. GM and most other OEM's have a variety of concepts for vehicles designed as robotaxis from the ground up, but they're all several years out.

Although the busses in my city don't have rear facing seats either, they exasperate motion sickness in some people.

Zoox is building a bi-directional robotaxi that has no front or rear, it goes both ways the same. All four wheels have independent steering and motors. It would be too weird for a human to control manually at all.

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