Tech, Regulatory Snags Slow GM Plan for Robo-Taxis

Regulatory and technical issues make it unlikely that General Motors Co. will meet its target of launching a driverless-taxi service by the end of this year, Automotive News says.

GM’s Cruise Automation unit aims to deploy fleets of fully autonomous shuttles that function without a driver in dense urban environments. But AN says a sluggish regulatory environment and the daunting technical challenges of robotic city driving are reining in GM’s plans.

Now, Cruise appears more likely to begin restricted service in one city, such as San Francisco—and with backup safety drivers on board, according to the report. The company emphasizes that the safety of its robotic cars is far more important than a self-declared timetable for introducing them.

GM petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 15 months ago for a waiver allowing it to operate as many as 2,500 fully autonomous taxis that lack a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator. A response from NHTSA doesn’t appear likely until at least late this summer.