Exclusive: U.S. Agency in Talks With GM to Deploy Some Cars Without Steering Wheels

By Reuters

WASHINGTON—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) acting chief said on Friday, Dec. 20, that it’s in talks with General Motors Co on its January 2018 petition to deploy a limited number of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads without steering wheels or other human controls.

Acting NHTSA Administrator James Owens told Reuters the agency hopes to make a decision soon on GM’s petition as well as a request by SoftBank Corp-backed driverless delivery startup Nuro to deploy a limited number of low-speed, highly automated delivery vehicles without human occupants.

Workers build a GM crossover SUV
Workers build a GM crossover SUV as it goes through the assembly line at the General Motors Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant on March 10, 2010 in Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

“I expect we’re going to be able to move forward with these petitions soon—as soon as we can,” Owens said, adding action “definitely” would come next year.

“This will be a big deal because this will be the first such action that will be taken,” GM confirmed it has been in talks with NHTSA about the petition.

Nuro did not immediately comment.

by David Shepardson