GM drops the steering wheel and pedals for its self-driving Bolt

Next year, General Motors Co. will no longer need an engineer in the front seat babysitting the robot brain that controls its self-driving Chevrolet Bolt. The steering wheel and pedals will be gone, giving total control to the machine. When GM starts testing its autonomous electric sedan in San Francisco ride-sharing fleets, it’ll likely be the first production-ready car on the roads without the tools to let a human assume control. The announcement Friday is the first sign from a major carmaker that engineers have enough confidence in self-driving cars to let them truly go it alone. “What’s really special about this is if you look back 20 years from now, it’s the first car without a steering wheel and pedals,” said Kyle Vogt, chief executive officer of Cruise Automation, the San Francisco-based unit developing the software for GM’s self-driving cars. GM will run the cars in a test batch for a ride-sharing program starting in 2019, and they won’t be without a safety net. The vehicles will travel on a fixed route controlled by their mapping system, and the Detroit-based automaker is applying for federal permission to run the test cars without a driver. Vogt said the self-driving Bolt has redundant systems built in to back up the driving systems. If there’s a problem, the car will slow down, pull over to the roadside and stop. GM’s experiment will be a significant step forward for self-driving cars. The automaker and companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit and startup Zoox Inc. have demonstrated cars that can drive with so-called Level 4 autonomy. As defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, cars at that level can drive without human intervention but only in certain geographic areas. GM, Zoox, Waymo and others have all tested Level 4 cars, but usually with a driver still at the wheel to take over in case the system doesn’t work properly. Removing the driver will really test the technology, Continue Reading

GM just revealed a fully autonomous electric car that doesn’t have a steering wheel (GM)

Matthew DeBord, provided by Published 9:01 pm, Thursday, January 11, 2018 GM General Motors revealed its fourth-generation self-driving vehicle. It has no traditional manual controls. The automaker expects to roll it out in 2019. On Thursday, the automaker also stressed that the fully autonomous vehicle would emphasize safety — and went into great detail on the hows and whys, including redundant systems intended to replace a human driver. LATEST BUSINESS VIDEOS Now Playing: Now Playing Gigi Hadid's Mom Eliminates Competition in New Modeling Series Cheddar Why Men Flaunt Their Wealth More Than Women Buzz60 Drake-Backed MatchaBar Wants to Kick Coffee Cheddar What iPhone Designer Tony Fadell Thinks Apple Should Do About Tech Addiction Cheddar Detroit Auto Show Set to Rev Up this Weekend AP Robots and time travel at CES 2018 Euronews_News FOX Business Beat: Top jobs; dog walking app hack Fox5DC 10 Surprising Things About Oprah And Her Money TMTime Samsung Galaxy S9 to Be Revealed in February Wibbitz Alliance Data CEO: You Can Tell a Lot About Someone By How They Handle Failure FortuneTime On a conference call with reporters, GM President Dan Ammann said that the vehicle is the fourth generation of the vehicle to emerge from the carmaker's Cruise division. GM acquired what was then Cruise Automation, a Silicon Valley startup, in 2016. "We're super excited to share this point in the journey," Ammann said. The third generation, based on the Chevy Bolt, was showcased in San Francisco for the media late last year, so GM Cruise has been able to reveal four iterations in 18 months, Ammann said. Rapid progress toward a car with no controls General Motors That's rapid progress and a testament to a critical early design and engineering decision: to pair Cruise's technology, optimized for complicated urban environments such as San Francisco, with GM's ability to develop and manufacture vehicles at a massive scale. Continue Reading

Jeep hackers are back with new exploits: steering wheel and velocity hijacking

The Jeep hackers from 2015 are back — this time with a more dangerous exploit. Automotive cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek developed a new hack that allows them to do more than just kill the transmission and apply the brakes on a Jeep Cherokee. This time, the malware can activate the parking break, mess around with cruise control and even jerk the steering wheel 180-degrees while the car is in motion. Unlike the first hack, this one can't be executed remotely, but it still shows just how susceptible a vehicle can be to a cyberattack. In order to execute this attack, a hacker would have to sit inside the car and hook up a laptop to the CAN network at the bottom of the dashboard. Miller and Valasek, who now work at Uber's Advanced Technology Center, tend to perform these stunts and gather data to supply it to the automotive industry and show companies the potential reality of hackers using this technology for evil purposes. Last year, the research duo's hack led to a 1.4 million vehicle recall from Fiat Chrysler and a software update to patch the framework. However, this time around Chrysler does not appear to be concerned with the hack since it is too complex and would need more practicality to be harmful. Someone would basically have to downgrade the car's software, take out certain security parts and then invite someone to sit on the back seat and take control of the car. "While we admire their creativity, it appears that the researchers have not identified any new remote way to compromise a 2014 Jeep Cherokee or other FCA US vehicles," Chrysler said in a statement to Wired. "It is highly unlikely that this exploit could be possible." Car experts still believe that cyberattacks on cars will be an issues in the future, and that sooner or later, there'll be another imposing threat on smart car owners. "There will almost certainly continue to be remote vulnerabilities Continue Reading

Google wants autonomous cars without steering wheels

Google is literally taking this whole self-driving thing, well, literally. They want to make their autonomous cars drive themselves without any help from anyone behind the wheel. That is, if there even is a wheel for that matter. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE.  Google says there is no need for a steering wheel, in fact, they want to make them without gas or brake pedals as well. The technology giant plans to make a fully automated self-driving car and they can do this by taking the car out of the hands of the driver. For some, it may be difficult to imagine just sitting and relaxing in the front seat, with zero control. At Google, they actually believe this is the safest way to drive. In an interview with NPR, Chris Urmson, technical director of the Google self-driving car project, elaborated on why he thinks autonomous cars are essential. “It really starts with safety. In America, there are 33,000 people that are killed on the road every year,” Urmson said. “There is just a tremendous opportunity there to save lives — 94 percent of those accidents are due to human error, and the good news is we can build software and hardware that can see the road and pay attention all the time and react more quickly and keep people safe on the road.” While Urmson and Google have made a great case, California’s DMV has still proposed that a licensed driver be in the vehicle, and that vehicles still need a steering wheel, gas, and brakes. Urmson still doesn’t believe any of those things are necessary. “Once the technology is actually out on the road, I think [having a driver inside the car] that it isn't the right answer,” he said. “I think the idea is to give more people mobility, and by increasing the requirements on the person who's driving the vehicle when they should be doing less doesn't make a lot of sense to me.” Google is slowly but surely attempting to make sense of this to Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: N.Y. pols want to fix 1971 steering wheel law to allow for self-driving cars

ALBANY — State lawmakers are looking to pave the way for the next generation of driving technology — cars that drive themselves. In what they argue is a case of New York law not keeping up with technology, legislators are pushing to change a 1971 measure that requires drivers to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel while the vehicle is in motion. They argue the law will not only stymie the introduction of automated driving systems that are already in the works but could also ensnare drivers who use parking assist features now offered in some models. "We are just trying to have the law match up to the technology that people are using today and I think is only going to grow down the road," said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Robach (R-Monroe County). Robach, who was not aware of anyone actually being ticketed for using a parking system, has introduced legislation that exempts motorists using "driving technology" from the one-hand-on-the-wheel requirement. New York, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is the only state in the nation with a law requiring at least one hand on the steering wheel. Robach’s bill was approved by the Senate last week but has yet to gain traction in the Democrat-controlled Assembly amid concerns from some lawmakers that the technology is still unproven. "Show me how it is going to work at Second Ave. and 60th St. at rush hour and then I might support legislative change for driverless cars," said Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan). Advocates of automated driving systems, which rely on a combination of sensors, cameras and GPS to maneuver vehicles, argue they will ultimately make travel safer by removing the potential for human error. "About 94% of the accidents in federal stats have some element of human error," said Brad Stertz, director of government affairs for Audi. "The car with its 20 plus sensors all round it creates this Continue Reading

Wild ride: Cops stop Australian driver who drove car with pliers instead of steering wheel

A unlicensed driver was busted for trying to drive his car with a pair of locking pliers. Cops in Adelaide, Australia pulled the 38-year-old over during Monday morning's rush hour because of two blown-out tires. But they were shocked to find his vehicle didn't actually have a steering wheel - and he was controlling his ride by turning the shaft with the Vise-Grip. He was arrested and charged with driving without proper documents and under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana. He also faces charges of driving without due care, driving in a dangerous manner, driving while unregistered, uninsured and breaching his bail conditions. Police think he had earlier been involved in a hit-and-run incident, so they also charged him with failing to stop at the scene of a crash. "While this is an extreme example, police wish to remind all motorists they have a responsibility to drive with due care at all times," a police spokesman told Adelaide Now. The man appeared in court on Tuesday and was remanded in custody. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Neonode banks on touch-sensitive steering wheel to let drivers use in-car entertainment

Optical touch technology company Neonode is set to demonstrate a super-sensory cart steering wheel that could be used instead of buttons or even voice control to activate vehicle telematics systems. A number of car manufacturers and technology companies alike believe that the future of the connected car and of operating in-car entertainment and informatics systems is via voice control. Ford has worked with Microsoft to develop the SYNC platform which cedes to users' vocal demands, while Mercedes, Honda, Chevrolet and a host of others are looking to embed Apple's Siri virtual assistant at the heart of their in-vehicle entertainment systems. However, Neonode Inc believes there is another way, namely via a gesture-and-touch-sensitive steering wheel. The Next-Generation Neonode-powered steering wheel will allow drivers to use gesturing and touch to control audio, visual, and in-car telematic systems rather than steering-wheel and steering column-mounted buttons and switches. It is not clear if the device, which will be showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES, January 8-11 in Las Vegas) this month, has already attracted partners within the automotive world, but doing away with steering-wheel mounted buttons, particularly on performance cars, could really help to elevate the driving experience. For example, the latest Ferrari 458 Italia and its big brother the F12 Berlinetta both feature a number of wheel-mounted and integrated controls that are actually a liability when driving conditions are hard and the wheel isn't perfectly straight. The driver is forced to look down at the wheel to locate the turning signals, traction control or suspension settings when he or she should have both eyes on the road. Of the announcement, Neonode CEO Thomas Eriksson said: "We have made it our mission to develop the next generation of touch solutions, significantly raising the bar and perception of possibilities. Our patented MultiSensing technology has emerged from Continue Reading

Post-New York Auto Show questions for car makers

After visiting the 2012 NY Auto show twice, I’m newly and duly impressed with the industry’s continual reinvention of itself, especially after the shellacking it took in the last few years due to the flat-tire economy. But after 700 cars and trucks reviewed over 12 years, questions lingered in my mind as I made the rounds of the approximately 1,000 cars and trucks at the show. Sure, I could write to GM chief Daniel F. Akerson or Ford’s Allan Mulally and present my queries to them, and maybe I will. But for now, I pose them here. Why do cars still get mostly under 50 miles to the gallon? Consider how far we’ve come in the world of computers in the last 10 years alone – the staggering leaps in progress in microchips, the explosion of social networking and the ability of the common citizen to reach billions of people with writing, video, music, and that’s just for starters.  If the auto industry had made the same colossal improvements as the computer industry, cars would get 1,000 miles to the gallon. Why don’t they? Why don’t you guys streamline the design of navigation systems? What if Nissan put their steering wheels in the trunk, Honda placed their seats upside down and each make of car required an hour-long tutorial just to figure out how to start the thing and drive it away? You guys do that with your nav systems.  Some manufacturers – Dodge, for instance, are a snap to use. You turn them on, the layout and step-by-step procedure are obvious from the start, and within a couple of minutes, you’re on your way to your destination.  Other systems, like Ford’s Edge or Jaguar’s XLJ Portfolio, require a visit to the owner’s manual, and even then – Jaguar –  you’re left yelling at the dashboard, “I. Just. Want. To. Go. To. 123. Main. Street.”  Complicated isn’t “better.” Someone needs to declare a new sheriff in town, and Continue Reading

Apple Siri for cars? ‘Eyes Free’ system coming soon

Apple Siri is coming to a car near you. At this week’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) it was revealed that automakers including BMW, Audi, Chrysler, Honda, General Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover and Toyota plan to integrate Siri into their vehicles in what they've termed the 'Eyes Free' system. Very few details were provided, however. did note that a single slide of a BMW dashboard with an iPhone mounted on it was shown at the conference and stated that "it is assumed that existing voice buttons - normally found on the steering wheel - would be able to call up the iPhones virtual assistant."  Siri is already making an impact on the automotive sector with Mercedes planning to intergrate it into its new A-Class, due to be released in Europe later this year.   Apple's WWDC runs June 11-15 in San Francisco. AFP/Relaxnews Did you find this article helpful? If so, please share it using the "Join the Conversation" buttons below, and thank you for visiting Daily News Autos. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

FDNY chief busted in road-rage attack after hitting driving in face with steering wheel club

A FDNY deputy chief is accused of going wild with road rage on Long Island and bashing another driver in the face with a steering wheel club, the Daily News has learned. Daniel Butler was charged with assault after the July 4 confrontation that erupted after he nearly hit another car near his home in North Bellmore, police said. Butler, the head of the FDNY's Division 15 in Brooklyn and a 30-year veteran, chased the Audi sedan driven by Christopher Gray, 25, for nearly two miles before Gray stopped his car, police said. When Gray stepped out of the car, Butler came at him with the metal club, police said. "I went out to check the damage and I saw him swinging a club at me full force," Gray told the Daily News yesterday. "I tried to block him, but it still hit my teeth," Gray said. "I was bleeding like crazy." "[Butler] said 'I'm gonna knock your teeth out, you little s---,'" Gray claimed. Butler, who declined to speak to reporters, was arrested on July 10 and arraigned on the felony charge the next day. He is due back in court for a conference hearing today. Butler's lawyer acknowledged that "cooler heads should have prevailed" during the altercation but defended the high-ranking FDNY officer's character. "He was a first responder on 9/11 and has received various commendations for his heroism," said lawyer Peter Brill. "He is an impressive guy," said Brill, "and he is loved by his colleagues and his family." After the arrest, the FDNY suspended Butler for 30 days without pay. He returned to work this week, Brill said. An FDNY official confirmed the suspension but declined further comment. Though Brill said Gray's "foolish driving" provoked the incident, a Nassau Police spokesman said Butler's Nissan Maxima caused the near-collision that sparked the fight. Gray lost several teeth and suffered "substantial pain, swelling and bleeding," according to the criminal complaint filed in Nassau First District Court. The Continue Reading