Self-driving tech is a moving target, but GM is getting close

The company still doesn’t have an answer from federal regulators after requesting an exemption from safety standards to allow vehicles without brake pedals or steering wheels, although that may soon change.

“I wouldn’t say there’s impediments there, it’s just work that still needs to be done,” Barra said on the call.

What GM can control, however, appears to be moving in the right direction, even if the end result will come later than expected.

Barra said the automaker isn’t waiting on some step-change in technology from a supplier to deploy the vehicles: It has everything it needs in-house. And it’s continuing to iterate and expand testing in tricky environments such as San Francisco.

It’s also trying to tackle the issue of public trust — or lack thereof — with what Barra calls a “well thought-out” marketing campaign targeted to cities where it tests.