Cruise's next-generation car. Photo: Cruise

Cruise, General Motors' autonomous vehicle unit, plans to mass produce a self-driving car without a steering wheel or pedals by 2019, the company said on Thursday. It says it has submitted a safety report as well as an application to regulators to approve the design, its fourth-generation model.

Caveat: Though 2019 is a year away, only seven states currently allow for driverless cars, and Cruise's home state of California is in the process of passing a bill to allow for this. It has also applied for needed exemptions to federal regulations.

The car: Along with the omission of driver-centric features, Cruise's next-generation car is designed for ride-hailing passengers in mind. Riders will be able to summon one via a mobile app and adjust settings like interior temperature.

Competition: Cruise has several competitors, most notably Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit. Waymo has been working on self-driving cars since 2009 and has been testing its cars in a few locations, including a pilot test program in Arizona it debuted last year.

  • Cruise employees have been testing summoning rides from in San Francisco. However, it's not clear what Cruise's future plans are, besides its plan to make the new car available sometime in 2019. So far, Cruise isn't doing the kind of small-scale pilots being undertaken by its self-driving car rivals.

Go deeper

Tech hits the brakes on office reopenings

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech was the first industry to send its workers home when COVID-19 first hit the U.S., and it has been among the most cautious in bringing workers back. Even still, many companies are realizing that their reopening plans from as recently as a few weeks ago are now too optimistic.

Why it matters: Crafting reopening plans gave tech firms a chance to bolster their leadership and model the beginnings of a path back to normalcy for other office workers. Their decision to pause those plans is the latest sign that normalcy is likely to remain elusive in the U.S.

The existential threat to small business

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the game for U.S. businesses, pushing forward years-long shifts in workplaces, technology and buying habits and forcing small businesses to fight just to survive.

Why it matters: These changes are providing an almost insurmountable advantage to big companies, which are positioned to come out of the recession stronger and with greater market share than ever.

Students say they'll sacrifice fun if they can return to campus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

College students overwhelmingly plan to return to campus this fall if their schools are open — and they claim they'll sit out the fun even if it's available, according to a new College Reaction/Axios poll.

Why it matters: For many, even an experience devoid of the trappings of college life is still a lot better than the alternative.