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The San Francisco startup, which GM bought two years ago and has made the center of its self-driving efforts, originally worked to retrofit existing cars to be autonomous.

GM plans to mass-produce the cars for use as robot taxis in 2019.

Legislation to allow carmakers to test driverless vehicles on USA roads with less hassle - called the SELF DRIVE act - is still pending approval in the Senate, although it has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

Vogt said the self-driving Bolt has redundant systems built in to back up the driving systems. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, self-driving cars can drive without human intervention but only in specific geographic locations. Removing the driver will really test the technology, said Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Motor Corp.'s Toyota Research Institute.

General Motors is looking to reinvent the wheel, by building a auto without a steering wheel, pedals or gear selector, because it doesn't need them.

The steering wheel may become obsolete sooner than we expected. The company declined to identify the first states in which it plans to launch the vehicle or say when it would begin testing.

The Cruise AV is powered by the fourth generation of GM's self-driving technologies, and relies on 21 radars, 16 cameras, and five lidars, which are essentially radars that use light instead of radio waves. The to-be-submitted report is expected to bring more clarity in this respect.

GM spokesman Kevin Kelly says the first of the autonomous Chevrolet Bolts is being tested. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards can make exemptions, but only up to 2,500 vehicles a year, so GM is looking to "meet that standard in a different kind of way", company president Dan Ammann told the Verge.

The automaker said it petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 16 specific exceptions to meet current federal safety standards with workarounds that accommodate the cars' unique nature. That enables the automaker to "safely take the next step - elimination of the steering wheel, pedals and other manual controls".

Just as 1908 marked the end of the horse and buggy era with the introduction of the Ford Model T, 2018 may well be remembered as the end of the automotive era, as General Motors begins mass-production of a driverless vehicle without steering wheels or pedals. Currently, only seven states allow the technology to be tested without a safety driver, said Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's chief counsel and policy director for transportation as a service.