Pennsylvania Says Come Test a Driverless Car
All you need to operate a self-driving vehicle on public roads in Pennsylvania is the right technology: no special permit or license, no unique registration, no safety clearance, nothing. That’s why it’s the perfect landscape for Uber to test its driverless fleet.
However, don’t expect this no-regulatory environment to stick. Currently the law in Pennsylvania is silent on the issue of driverless cars because lawmakers didn’t anticipate the technology. However, with a government-mandated checklist and advice for states to regulate, Pennsylvania will soon begin to experience a bit tougher hand aimed at the self-driving experience.
Government’s First Guidelines for Self-Driving Car Safety
Just as self-driving cars begin to take the road in Pittsburg, the U.S. Government has come forward with a 15-point safety checklist that it is asking manufacturers and dealers to adhere to when building and selling driverless cars.
President Obama stated that the checklist was put in place to regulate the industry without “suffocating” innovation in the field as research and development continues to move forward. The checklist also provides guidance to the the states on how to regulate—but not overregulate—the new technology.
The list of expectations includes information on data sharing, privacy, system safety, digital security, human-machine interface, crashworthiness, consumer education, certification, post-crash behavior, laws and practices, ethical consideration, operational design, detection and response, fallback, and validation. Learn more about the checklist here.
Uber Introduces Self-Driving Fleet in Pittsburg
Uber has become the first transportation company in the world to offer rides in autonomous cars. The option for a “driverless” ride became available in Pittsburg in September.
This mode of transportation is not quite driverless yet though, as two Uber employees will accompany every trip to monitor the car’s self-driving capabilities. Uber’s goal is to one day have a wholly autonomous fleet.
In order for a successful ride each and every time, the cars look a bit different than your traditional vehicles. The exterior of the car showcases the full suite of Uber’s self-driving technology: a rotating LIDAR sensor on the roof, as well as front, rear, and side-mounted sensors to detect obstacles in close proximity. There are 20 cameras that watch for braking vehicles, crossing pedestrians, traffic lights, and signage; cameras and sensors to collect mapping data; and roof- and trunk-mounted antennae to provide GPS positioning and wireless capabilities.
Who Won the Automated Car Game? Domino’s
Several companies have been vying to get the best self driving vehicle on the road first. But Domino’s—yes, the pizza company—has everyone beat.
DRU, Domino’s Robotic Unit, has been testing in small pockets of New Zealand and Australia. So what makes this the best version of the automated car yet? It delivers piping hot pizza, right to you.
It may not offer all the bells and whistles a Google car does: it’s actually just a low-powered oven and refrigerator on wheels. Domino’s developed the tech with Marathon Targets, a robotics company based in Australia.
If DRU doesn’t work out, its cousin, a Domino’s delivery flying drone, is also up for testing now.
Singapore Goes Driverless Thanks to NuTonomy
Popular ride-hailing firm Grab has entered a partnership with Singapore startup NuTonomy to offer its riders driverless car options in the Western Singapore district where the technology is being tested.
A select group of commuters can book and ride nuTonomy’s driverless vehicles during it’s two-month trial period. This comes as Uber acquired Otto to also introduce driverless cars to its fleet in the U.S.
A safety driver and a support engineer will ride along in each nuTonomy car. The company currently has two regulator-approved cars on the road, with four more on the way. Grab and its partner want 100 driverless taxis working commercially in the city-state by 2018.
Experts: Don’t Expect to Get Work Done Behind the Wheel of a Driverless Car
Although Uber has pushed us towards the precipice of driverless cars, there are still several hurdles to introducing the technology on a wide scale. Upcoming government regulations will be one large hurdle, but so too will be convincing the driving public to invest in the tech in the first place.
The University of Michigan conducted a study in which 58.5 percent of drivers were not interested in riding in a self-driving vehicle, or would watch the road regardless of the vehicle not needing driver interference.
The study also uncovered that, even for those surveyed who were interested in getting work done or amusing themselves in another way during the driverless commute, most commuters’ car rides are too brief for significant productive engagement.
car rides in the U.S. are too brief for significant productive engagement. The overall trip length for most averaged just 9.5 miles and 18.6 minutes, which is too short for most people to settle down and get much work done.