The carmaker's self-driving arm, Cruise Automation, on Friday unveiled the latest version of its autonomous vehicle -- and the manual controls have been removed.
Cruise, which is based in San Francisco, expects to test the modified Chevy Bolt next year. Eventually, it should serve in ride-hailing services in cities across the U.S.
The autonomous cars currently being tested by major companies still have manual controls.
But because the new GM vehicle is fully autonomous, the company says there is no need for manual controls, such as a steering wheel or accelerator and brake pedals. Instead, the car has several interior screens that passengers can use to communicate with the vehicle.
GM sees the announcement Friday as a significant step toward the widespread adoption of self-driving vehicle technology. But before it can use the new vehicles, GM will need special approval from the federal government.
The company has filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, requesting exemptions from 16 safety standards. It says these aren't relevant because the vehicle doesn't have manual controls.
"When you don't have a steering wheel, it makes no sense to talk about an airbag in a steering wheel," Paul Hemmersbaugh, GM's policy director for autonomous vehicles, told reporters. "So what we do instead is put in an airbag that mirrors the right front passenger side, and show it provides equivalent safety."