The driverless future inched a step closer today with the unveiling of a concept vehicle by General Motors that had seats but no controls.
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US car giant General Motors has unveiled an autonomous car without a steering wheel or brake and accelerator pedals, but the company is yet to say when it will arrive in showrooms.

The concept car, named “Cruise Origin”, was developed in partnership with Japanese maker Honda.

General Motors and Honda have part ownership of technology start-up Cruise, a Silicon Valley company established in 2013 that specialises in autonomous vehicles.

According to news agency Reuters, the head of the Cruise division, General Motors executive Dan Ammann, said the box-shaped vehicle with sliding doors will initially be used for the company’s own ride-hailing service, though he did not say when it would be put into service.

Testing of such vehicles on real roads requires special permission and is not available in all US states.

California and Nevada are among the states that allow special dispensation for the testing of driverless vehicles, though they come with a long list of restrictions.

The Reuters news agency reported that the General Motors Cruise concept car still needs a waiver from US regulators to operate vehicles without human controls.

General Motors took a stake in the Cruise start-up in 2016; Honda invested in the firm in 2018. GM has also been testing autonomous tech on its existing models such as the Chevrolet Bolt (pictured below).

Announcing its financial interest in Cruise, then General Motors’ President Dan Amman said in 2016: “Fully autonomous vehicles can bring our customers enormous benefits in terms of greater convenience, lower cost and improved safety for their daily mobility needs.”

General Motors’ investment in autonomous vehicles is “inspiring, deliberate, and completely in line with our vision to make transportation safer and more accessible,” the founder of Cruise Automation, Kyle Vogt, said in a media statement in 2016. “We are excited to be partnering with GM and believe this is a ground-breaking and necessary step toward rapidly commercialising autonomous vehicle technology.”

According to Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, the Cruise autonomous car company provides “a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry. We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team”.

General Motors says Cruise operates as an independent unit within its Autonomous Vehicle Development Team and will continue to be based in San Francisco.