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New Patent Can Make Any Car Autonomous

Patent / Comments

So long as it doesn't have a manual transmission.

General Motors is hard at work creating self-driving vehicles. Last year, the company received a massive $2.25 billion investment to build self-driving cars and announced a partnership to develop autonomous vehicle technology with Honda. Aside from a Chevy Bolt-based concept car with no pedals or steering wheel, we haven't seen too many hints of what the first self-driving car from GM will actually look like.

It may not be an official announcement but GM Inside News has discovered a new patent filed with the United Stated States Patent and Trademark Office, detailing a "system for retrofitting vehicle automation." This may be our first look into what GM is working on in the field of autonomous vehicles.

The patent shows how motors and sensors in the steering wheel and pedals, along with additional sensors and computers around the vehicle, can turn almost any current car into self-driving one. We have bad news for fans of the manual transmission because the patent only mentions two pedals (the brake and the accelerator), so it looks like this technology will only work on cars with an automatic. The patent also stipulates the car must be drive-by-wire, which would preclude a lot of older vehicles.

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The system can also be controlled using a phone, so the car could possibly park itself and come pick you up when you are ready to leave.

The largest benefit here is that existing cars can be turned into an autonomous vehicle, so you wouldn't have to go out to buy a new car if the world suddenly outlawed conventional cars. We still don't know if GM eventually plans to offer this as a dealer installed optioned or as an add-on from the factory nor do we know when this technology will actually see the light of day (if ever).