It’s a stark image of a future that Chevrolet says isn’t far off. The automaker filed a Safety Petition with the Department of Transportation with the intent of testing cars without steering wheels, pedals, or any kind of manual controls as early as 2019.
The photo and video depict a test vehicle based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV that looks like it has had the passenger side of its dashboard cloned. Chevy parent GM calls the steering wheel-less car the Cruise AV (Autonomous Vehicle), and it’s the first step on the road toward self-driving cars with no need for human intervention.
The test car makes use of nearly 40 individual radar and lidar sensors as well as cameras to take drivers out of the picture entirely. All vehicle occupants are passengers with no responsibility beyond enjoying the ride to a pre-programmed destination. Cars without steering wheels fit in Levels 4 and 5 on the autonomous vehicle scale.
The fleet of Chevy test cars will probably be operated by an internal ride-sharing division called Cruise Anywhere, which is being tested by employees at GM-owned self-driving car developer Cruise Automation.
GM’s announcement follows Ford’s patent filing last summer for a dashboard with no steering wheel. Volvo, on the other hand, has said that its Level 4-capable XC90 self-driving crossovers will still have steering wheels and other driver controls.
Regardless, it’ll take some getting used to no longer playing “shotgun.”