GM Seeks OK for Self-Driving Commercial Vehicle Without Steering Wheel for 2019

General Motors Co. is seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car – one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal – to enter the automaker’s first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019, executives said.

For passengers who cannot open doors, the Cruise AV – a rebranded version of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt EV – has even been designed to perform that task. It will have other accommodations for hearing and visually impaired customers.

This will be one of the first self-driving vehicles in commercial passenger service and among the first to do away with manual controls for steering, brakes and throttle. What is the driver’s seat in the Bolt EV will become the front left passenger seat in the Cruise AV, GM said.

Company President Dan Ammann told reporters GM had filed on Thursday for government approval to deploy the “first production-ready vehicle designed from the start without a steering wheel, pedals or other unnecessary manual controls.”

GM is part of a growing throng of vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and tech startups seeking to develop so-called robo-taxis over the next three years in North America, Europe and Asia. Most of those companies have one or more partners.

Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday it will partner with delivery service Postmates Inc. as the automaker starts testing ways to transport people, food and packages this spring in its self-driving cars, which are being developed by Ford’s Argo unit.

Other companies, from Uber Technologies Inc to Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, have been testing self-driving vehicle prototypes in limited ride sharing applications, but have been less explicit than GM in announcing plans for commercial robo-taxi services.

GM executives said the automaker has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow 16 alterations to existing vehicle safety rules – such as having an airbag in what would normally be the driver’s seat, but without a steering wheel – to enable the deployment of the Cruise AV.

The automaker would then need to obtain similar approval from individual U.S. states. GM executives said seven U.S. states already allow the alterations sought by the automaker. In other states – including those that stipulate a car must have a licensed human driver – GM will work with regulators to change or get a waiver from existing rules.

The company declined to identify the first states in which it plans to launch the vehicle or say when it would begin testing.

GM wants to control its own self-driving fleet partly because of the tremendous revenue potential it sees in selling related services, from e-commerce to infotainment, to consumers riding in those vehicles.

At a Nov. 30 briefing in San Francisco, GM’s Ammann told investors the lifetime revenue generation of one of its self-driving cars could eventually be “several hundred thousands of dollars.” That compares with the $30,000 on average that GM collects today for one of its vehicles, mostly derived from the initial sale.

GM’s Cruise AV is equipped with the automaker’s fourth-generation self-driving software and hardware, including 21 radars, 16 cameras and five lidars – sensing devices that use laser light to help autonomous cars “see” nearby objects and obstacles.

The Cruise AV will be able to operate in hands-free mode only in premapped urban areas.

GM’s prototype self-driving vehicles have been developed in San Francisco by Cruise Automation, the onetime startup that GM acquired in March 2016 for a reported $1 billion.


Firefighter accused of setting his own truck on fire seeking insurance payout

A Cal Fire firefighter, his wife and another family member have been accused of torching their truck to get out of an $830 monthly payment and filing a false insurance claim.

Eric Jabbar Norwood, 47, Linda Lee Norwood, 53, and Keanna Taylor Norwood, 21, of Hemet, have been charged with arson, using an explosive, filing a fraudulent claim for payment and making a false insurance claim, Riverside County Superior Court records show.

Eric and Linda Norwood have pleaded not guilty and have a status conference set for May 22. They have been released on their own recognizance. Keanna Norwood is scheduled to enter a plea on May 14. She posted $40,000 bail.

Eric Norwood remains employed by Cal Fire, said Battalion Chief Lucas Spelman, a spokesman for the agency. Spelman said he did not know whether Norwood was on leave. Norwood worked in the Riverside County Unit for eight years and has worked in the San Diego Unit for two, Spelman said.

The case began about 3 a.m. on May 10, 2015 when a vehicle caught fire in the orange groves at Fairview and Stetson avenues near Hemet. The truck was registered to Eric and Linda Norwood, according to an affidavit written April 16, 2018, by a Cal Fire investigator in order to obtain an arrest warrant.

Linda told deputies that Eric had taken the truck to work, at Station 25 in San Jacinto. There, he told deputies that he had parked his truck and believed that he locked it. An unidentified witness later told the investigator that Linda and Eric had discussed the plausibility that the truck could be stolen “because there have been break-ins at the station before and it wouldn’t be uncommon to have vehicle stolen.”

But the results of the investigation turned the suspicion on the Norwoods.

For one, there was no broken glass or other signs of forced entry where the truck had been parked, the affidavit says. The investigator wrote that he believed the Norwoods staged the truck theft. Keanna admitted driving to the fire station with Linda the night of the fire, the affidavit says.

Then a search of the defendants’ cell phones revealed that Eric had researched the value of the truck, whether insurance covers vandalism and vehicles that he might purchase, the affidavit said. The phone also had a scrubbing program that deleted records of calls, texts and data for a two-month period that included the date of the fire.

The phone search also showed GPS coordinates that placed Linda and Keanna slightly more than a mile away from the site of the fire at 2:30 a.m., a half hour before the truck burned, the affidavit said.

And then the witness told the Cal Fire investigator that about two months after the fire, Linda told her that she was worried that cell phone records might show she and her husband were not home at the time of the fire.

Linda, hoping to establish an alibi, “asked the witness if she would tell investigators that she stayed later than she did and they went to get tacos,” the investigator wrote.
By BRIAN ROKOS | [email protected] | The Press-Enterprise
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2018 at 12:57 pm | UPDATED: April 26, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Some Truck Insurance Companies Now Give Discounts For Good Driving

Truck insurance can seem like a complex or complicated business. There is a lot of misunderstanding that is involved with the whole insurance industry. Sifting through all of the information can be a chore. Luckily, we have compiled here some of the most helpful truck insurance tips available. You can read them below.

When considering truck insurance for a young driver, be sure to check with multiple insurance agencies to not only compare rates, but also any perks that they might include. It also cannot hurt to shop around once a year to see if any new perks or discounts have opened up with other companies. If you do find a better deal, let your current provider know about it to see if they will match.

When purchasing truck insurance for your teen, remember that there are a number of ways you can get a discount. If your teen: has taken Driver’s Ed, maintains good grades, drives a truck that is older, a four-door sedan or a station wagon, and/or any color but red, you could save a lot of money!

There are a number of added protections available to you that are that are beyond the legally required minimum. If you use these options, your premium will increase; however, it may be worth it. Obtaining uninsured motorist coverage makes certain you will be compensated if you are involved in an accident with a driver who has not purchased insurance or if you are hit by someone who hits your truck and flees the scene.

Some truck insurance companies have streamlined claims service for glass replacement. If you’re shopping for new coverage, don’t overlook this benefit. Depending on the carrier, you may have your deductible waived, meaning your glass can be repaired or replaced at no expense to you and your insurer may even send the glass company to your home or workplace to make it extra easy.

Decrease your mileage to decrease your premiums. The amount of miles you drive actually has a very large effect on the amount you pay for your premium. If you can cut down the amount of miles you drive, your premiums will fall with it. Give yourself a break, and take the bus on occasion.

Buy an older and cheaper vehicle. Most insurance companies will only allow you to put liability of older vehicles, automatically lowering your premiums. If you do have greater coverage, your rates will be lower anyway, because the insurance company knows you will not be paid much for your truck in the event that it is totaled.

If you’re planning on buying a new car, choosing one that is less desirable to thieves will lower your insurance rate. Online, you can find lists of the cars reported stolen most often and it’s likely that they are the same lists that your insurance company uses to calculate your premium. Use this information as part of your research into which truck you should buy.

If you are a young driver paying for your own truck insurance, add an older driver to you plan. Having a more experienced driver on your plan can reduce your premiums. Just make sure this older individual is willing to be added and that your truck insurance provider offers the discount.

Did you know that what type of area you live in is a variable in how much you will pay for truck insurance? If you live in a large city, you are more likely to have an accident with another truck and this in turn increases the price of your policy. You might want to consider paying a higher deductible in order to offset the higher premium cost.

You should not let your insurance coverage lapse. If you are not able to pay for your insurance policy in full, you should call and talk to an agent. If you allow the policy to lapse it is very possible that you will not have coverage should an accident take place. That is a big risk that can be avoided by making a simple phone call.

Try to reduce the miles you drive your vehicle. Your insurance is based on how many miles you drive per year. Don’t lie on the application because your insurance company may check to see how much you drive per year. Find a way to not drive as many miles each year.

Get Savings On Truck Insurance

A great way to save some money on your truck or truck insurance is to drive your vehicle less frequently. Many of today’s best truck insurance companies offer discounts to customers for low-mileage, incentivizing people to keep their cars parked. If you can walk instead of drive, you can get some good exercise and save money on your insurance.

From this point you can go forward, and know that you have some good knowledge of truck insurance. Investigation will be your best tool, going forward, to use to your advantage. Keep these tips in mind, and use them in conjunction with future information to have the most truck insurance success.