New G.M. Chief Is Company Woman, Born to It

GM CEO Mary Barra, facing an aggressive timeline to launch a self-driving taxi fleet, tells "Axios on HBO" they won't deploy the technology until it is safer than a human driver.

Why it matters: In a largely self-regulated industry, it is up to carmakers to demonstrate when self-driving cars are ready for deployment. The race to be first means the buzz and hype have often gotten ahead of the reality.

Tesla, for instance, claims it will have a million self-driving robotaxis by next year.
"We want to be safe. And so that's what's motivating us," Barra tells "Axios on HBO." "We understand this is life-changing technology."
"If you can demonstrate that your technology is safer than a human driver, that's what we think then makes it acceptable to put out on the road," Barra said.

Even without a safety driver, GM's first AVs for public use will likely be equipped with a steering wheel and pedals because the U.S. Department of Transportation hasn't acted on its request for an exemption of motor vehicle safety laws that require manual controls.

While not committing to a launch date, Barra says she doesn't regret the 2019 target: "It's a rallying cry. And I think it's been motivational."
 
Originally published at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/11/business/gm-names-first-f...