Ford Authority

Ford, GM Petition NHTSA For Self Driving Vehicle Exemptions

Ford-backed self driving vehicle company Argo AI has expanded rapidly in recent months, testing out its autonomous vehicles in a number of cities across the globe and even ditching human drivers in a couple of them. This effort is still in its early stages, however, as most self driving vehicle operations around the U.S. and other parts of the world are limited to geofenced areas and have human safety drivers on board. Regardless, Ford and General Motors are both looking ahead, and have now asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to grand exemptions for a limited number of autonomous vehicles that don’t have any sort of human controls on board, according to Reuters.

In response, the NHTSA has published each automaker’s petitions and opened them for public comment over the next 30 days as it considers the issue. Ford and GM reportedly want to deploy as many as 2,500 vehicles per year lacking things like steering wheels and pedals, which is the maximum currently allowed by law. The vehicles would be used for ride sharing and delivery services, but will not be sold to customers.

Ford’s petition – filed back in July 2021 – was previously undisclosed, but came to light when the NHTSA published it this week. GM and its self-driving division Cruise revealed their own petition this past February. Ford and Argo AI are aiming to deploy self-driving commercial vehicle services by the end of this decade, and the automaker noted in its petition filing that “having active driving controls and communications would introduce an unacceptable risk to safety.”

The Blue Oval wants to deploy self-driving hybrid-electric vehicles that are “specifically designed and tailored to support mobility services such as ride sharing, ride hailing, and package delivery,” according to the petition. “This petition is an important step toward helping create a regulatory path that allows autonomous technologies to mature over time, eliminating controls and displays that are only useful to human drivers,” a Ford spokesperson said.

We’ll have more on this very soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for continuous Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Michael Fornetti

    Elimination of driver controls is definitely a huge cost savings plus it eliminates behavioral issues commonly found today like cell phones, texting, excessive speeding, poor skill levels and poor decision making on the part of humans. (why doesn’t NHTSA fine individuals for behavioral issues???)

  2. Mike

    We are allowing these companies to use AI, etc., to transport us ( hopefully accident free ) with unproven and too early to implement technology, and use us as guinea pigs and test subjects, sometimes with disastorous consequences. Just ask the relatives of the Boeing 737 Maxs crash casualties, or the dozens of Tesla casualties. And our government is in bed with these companies, and are not protecting us, because the technology is moving way faster, then the government bureaucracy can keep up.

  3. J.M. Barnett

    The bigger issue is that the companies delving into self-driving cars have been pushing the powers that be to wave all liability associated with the cars failing. This has been going on since at least 2012. I personally believe it will be a blood bath, and deaths will approach the 1973 level when deaths were at the highest. Of course they will pretty the numbers up by saying deaths per mile driven are lower, but 43,000 deaths on the highway is still more than we’ve had in years. – Retired automotive engineer


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