Fully autonomous self-driving cars are already here, what next?
While fully autonomous cars are already on the road, it could be quite some time before we see them in our daily lives. While engineers continue to work out the kinks, there are plenty of ways you can prepare for this transportation revolution.
These cars are fully capable of driving from point A to point B without a human interaction
You might not have noticed, but the cars that drive themselves from point A to point B without a human interaction are already here.
If you’re thinking this must be a joke, it is not. Right now there are fully autonomous self-driving cars driving around our neighborhoods and cities.
The main reason you don’t notice them is because they’ve been designed to be fully aware of their surroundings, and thus adhere to the rules of the road (for example, never going through a red light).
The problem is driverless cars don’t take into account the human factor
- Humans make bad drivers. We have road rage, we’re distracted, we can’t see as well at night and we get tired. But our flaws are predictable: there’s a reason drunk driving is so dangerous — it’s not just that alcohol slows reaction time and makes you drowsy. There are specific behaviors associated with being drunk behind the wheel that are easy to identify and train a self-driving car to avoid.
- Most accidents occur because of human error — but humans also tend to be modest about their abilities. A recent AAA study found that almost two-thirds of Americans were afraid to ride in a driverless car, but three-quarters of them thought they were better than average drivers!
- If self-driving cars can’t learn how to accurately model human behavior, they’ll never truly achieve autonomy.
During the recent government shutdown this discussion has been front and center in Washington.
The last few months have been a tumultuous time in Washington, but even during the recent government shutdown discussions of fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) continued. For several years now, the Department of Transportation has been working on AVs and has released numerous public statements as well as guidance documents to help manufacturers bring these vehicles to market. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) meanwhile has worked to identify issues related to AVs and develop solutions that will allow for their safe operation on our roadways. Congress has also debated this issue extensively, especially over the last year when it considered several bills that would have allowed for greater numbers of AVs on our roadways. A number of states including Arizona, California and Michigan are involved in these discussions as well. Many other countries are also actively studying this issue and considering how best to approach it from a regulatory perspective.
You still have to wait for them.
Even if self-driving cars are already on the road, you’re going to have to wait awhile before you can buy one for yourself. That’s because people need assurance that it’s safe to ride in a nearly autonomous car. Until then, laws will continue to be passed and updated so that self-driving cars can be used safely by everyone.
There are many different types of laws governing driving, from state to federal laws. Some states allow self-driving cars while others don’t. Who is responsible in an accident? What happens if something goes wrong? There are many questions that need answered before we can drive these vehicles safely. All states must comply with the rules and regulations set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as their own state or local government before they’ll allow self-driving cars on the road. For example, Florida requires all drivers to stop at red lights when turning right on red while California doesn’t have any such law; both states require proof of insurance before issuing licenses but some other states do not require this step in order for you to drive legally within their borders! Self driving cars will have problems navigating through different laws if they aren’t programmed correctly or updated frequently enough which could result in accidents due to human error caused by confusion about what law applies where – this could even lead directly into someone being involved in an accident because their vehicle didn’t know how
Complicating things further: The insurance system isn’t ready for these vehicles either!
Uber has been testing these cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
You may not have noticed, but fully autonomous self-driving cars are already here! Uber has been testing these cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You see, the city of bridges has miles upon miles of challenging terrain and Uber needs to test its vehicles in many different conditions.
Think about it: Pittsburgh has hills, tunnels, poor weather conditions and more. And don’t forget the diverse population! There are so many different people driving on the roads that car makers need to make sure their vehicles can navigate city traffic with ease.
In short: if these cars can handle the roadways of Pittsburgh, they can pretty much handle the roadways anywhere else in the country.
Explanation: 2.5 yrs
But what does it all mean? Cars that can drive themselves from point A to point B without any human interaction are all well and good, but what’s the big deal? The big deal is that you might never have to drive yourself again. Imagine a future where you can simply hop in your car, tell it where you want to go, then sit back and relax while it takes care of everything else. No traffic jams. No road rage. No distracted driver clipping the side mirror on your car as he texts his wife about dinner plans for later this evening. Your car will just take you wherever you’d like to go, automatically avoiding obstacles, other cars, pedestrians and all sorts of other dangers along the way.
This isn’t some far-off dream either; fully autonomous cars are already moving from concept to reality at an accelerated rate. Google has been testing autonomous Priuses since 2009 with over 1 million miles driven accident free by 2012 (that’s equivalent to driving around the earth 40 times). In fact, in early 2015 Google announced that they’re planning a fully autonomous self-driving car without a steering wheel or pedals by 2017!