Today, GM unveiled the first image of its upcoming autonomous fourth-generation Bolt EV-based vehicle – the “first without a steering wheel or pedal.”

The automaker also says that it filed a petition asking the DOT permission to deploy the vehicle as soon as next year.

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The move represents an accelerated self-driving timeline for the company, which could potentially leapfrog most other companies working on the technology since the most common timeline is a commercial launch in 2020-2022.

The vehicle would represent the next generation of Cruise AV autonomous car based on the Bolt EV.

In June, GM announced the completion of the first batch of 130 Chevy Bolt EV autonomous prototypes at its Orion Assembly Plant located in Orion Township, Michigan.

We saw a glimpse of the outside of a forthcoming Bolt Autonomous vehicle in a Powerpoint late last year (left, below).

They are already using part of their fleet to carry Cruise employees “anywhere in San Francisco using their app” – an early version of the service they plan to offer to the public someday.

Although GM claims to be the 1st without a steering wheel or pedal, Google has demonstrated pedal-less, steeringwheel-less autonomous vehicles first as part of its Google X labs in 2014 and now part of its Waymo spinoff. Google has since added back steering wheels to its own vehicles and *steered* the organization to more as add ons to existing vehicles, especially Lexus crossovers and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids.

A few months later, they claimed to be ready to “mass produce” self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs and they announced an expansion of the test fleet to New York.

Now they have released the first image of the next-gen vehicle, which they called ‘Cruise AV’:

The Cruise AV is designed to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or other manual controls when it goes on the road in 2019.

In order to plead their case for the safety of their vehicle and submit their petition for the permission to deploy the vehicle, GM released a new “2018 Self-Driving Safety Report’.

The report explains the various passive and active safety features of the vehicle as well as all the redundant hardware:

Here’s GM’s ‘2018 Self-Driving Safety Report’:

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