For several years GM has been trying to create an autonomous car that will operate on its own. The 4th generation Cruise AV self-driving car (Chevrolet Bolt) will be prowling the streets come 2019, but this time with something different on board. On the dashboard you’ll notice that there is no steering wheel and there are no pedals or manual controls either. The touchscreen on the dashboard will display climate control and the GPS and serve as the only physical interface for the passengers sitting in the driverless steering wheel-less car. GM states this is “first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls”.
The Cruise AV has an array of sensors including 5 LIDAR, 16 cameras, and 21 radar units. This gives the car a 360 degree field of vision. The hardware in Cruise AV is designed to detect obstacles, such as pedestrians, objects on the road, construction zones, and even aggressive drivers. However, as we have seen before this hardware isn’t perfect as GM’s electric self-driving car has been stumped by a Taco Truck and even by a lane splitting motorcyclist.
You might be wondering if there are controls or an override that controls the car if it has trouble, breaks down or gets stuck in the middle of the road? GM says that there is software designed into the hardware that allows for redundant steering along with braking and collision detection systems. This will aid the car by steering it to a safe place if the main network goes down.
Currently the Cruise AV is being tested in and around San Francisco. GM acquired Cruise Automation in March 2016 for an estimated $1 billion. GM is trying to find ways to stay ahead in the autonomous self-driving car field, as this is their answer in combating Google’s Waymo and Baidu’s Apollo programs in building self-driving cars. GM hopes to have the car road ready by 2019.