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GM Wants The Feds To Ease Self-Driving Regulations

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The automaker’s CEO, Mary Barra, met with US senators earlier this week.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra held a meeting with two US senators last week as the Detroit automaker wants legislation passed to increase the deployment of self-driving vehicles in the country. Per Reuters, Barra met with Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell and committee member Senator Gary Peters, both Democrats, to discuss the still unresolved issue.

Congress has been debating how to handle the technology, specifically regarding safety, for the past six years and there’s still no formal policy in place. Barra, along with other automaker heads, wants that changed. “We must act to ensure US manufacturers can compete with countries like China, create jobs here and improve roadway safety,” said Peters, who happens to be from Michigan where GM is headquartered.

GM continues to heavily invest in autonomous vehicle technology, specifically with its self-driving subsidiary, Cruise. In February 2022, Cruise confirmed it had petitioned the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeking permission to deploy upwards of 2,500 self-driving vehicles that lack components like steering wheels, side mirrors, turn signals, and even windshield wipers.

GM wants the Origin, a self-driving EV, to one day replace heavily modified examples of the Chevy Bolt EV as GM’s flagship autonomous vehicle.

The Origin lacks all of those aforementioned features, and lawmakers and the public alike remain unsure about safety. GM says Origin passengers must still buckle up prior to when the vehicle starts moving. Still, this may not be enough to convince the public of the tech’s safety. Earlier this month, AAA released a survey indicating Americans are more afraid than ever of self-driving vehicles.

This is absolutely a wake-up call for Cruise and its chief rival, Waymo. Cruise didn’t help itself when the NHTSA opened a safety probe last December following incidents of unexpected braking and sudden immobility of Bolt robotaxis undergoing testing in San Francisco, California.

Fortunately for Cruise, its overall safety record has been solid. Its testing fleet has, to date, driven around 700,000 fully autonomous miles with no life-threatening injuries or fatalities. The feds’ probe remains ongoing.

Cruise asked President Biden back in 2021 for self-driving vehicle legislation, also citing the threat of lagging behind China. Neither Barra nor the senators commented regarding the meeting’s results but rest assured GM will continue lobbying for legislation that satisfies its long-term goals.






Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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