General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra held a meeting with two US senators on Thursday to discuss the future of autonomous vehicles on American roads. The meeting was attended by Barra, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, and Senator Gary Peters, both of whom are Democrats. Peters, who represents Michigan, noted that it is pertinent to support American carmakers so that they can compete with countries such as China.
GM’s autonomous driving technology unit, Cruise, has been allowed to provide robotaxi services in San Francisco without human drivers. On February 2022, Cruise revealed that it had submitted a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) so it could get permission to deploy 2,500 autonomous cars per year. These vehicles would have no steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals, or windshield wipers.
General Motors has been vocal about the need for the United States to back self-driving efforts. In 2021, Cruise encouraged US President Joe Biden to support legislation for self-driving vehicles. The company also highlighted that the country is at risk of falling behind against rivals like China.
However, GM has also faced some scrutiny for its work with Cruise. In December, the NHTSA initiated a safety probe into Cruise after two rear-end crashes involving Cruise robotaxis led to injuries. Cruise has noted that it is cooperating with the NHTSA’s investigation.
The meeting between Barra and the US senators is proof that the US government is taking autonomous vehicles seriously. But it remains to be seen if the government will support GM’s efforts to introduce self-driving vehicles on US roads. It is clear that the US needs to act quickly to stay ahead of other countries, such as China, in the race to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles.
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