California Wants to Take Human Training Wheels Off Autonomous Vehicles

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 16, 2017 12:42 pm

Self-driving vehicles could soon be cruisin’ down California streets with no humans. (Credit: Waymo)

You’ve read about self-driving cars cruising around California as companies try to prove and perfect their tech. A human sits in each car, but not because they want to joyride: it’s the law.

But that could change.

Last week, California lawmakers proposed legislation that would make it legal for companies to test self-driving cars without a human watchdog in the vehicle, and for commercial operations to begin as early as 2018. Just over 40 companies have been issued California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits, according to the state’s DMV, including Ford, Apple, Waymo and Tesla.

Driverless vehicles need to pack a lot of tech to navigate truly independently: cameras, radar and LIDAR to name a few. And all of these technologies continue to advance. Just last week Nvidia, which also has a California testing permit, released an artificial intelligence computer the size of a license plate intended to usher in fully autonomous vehicles.

Fear Runs Rampant

But, unsurprisingly, self-driving vehicles can be a scary sight for some people. According to a recent study that analyzed more than one trillion social posts, top concerns about self-driving vehicles include hacking and a “robot apocalypse”.

In order to dispel those fears, education can help. Google’s former self-driving car project, Waymo, recently launched the “Let’s Talk Self-Driving” campaign aimed at allaying fears. The campaign’s website lists reasons why hands-free driving is beneficial, including preventing drunk driving deaths, providing more free-time for commuters and giving independence to people who physically can’t drive cars.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), more than 35,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2015. The DOT notes that 94 percent of car crashes occur due to human choice or error.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
  • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

    Now, let’s see if I understand. I am in the crosswalk crossing the street and a driverless car is approaching its red light from one direction and a drunk drive is approaching its red light from the opposite direction. Which is most likely to cause me concern?

    • Uncle Al

      Which is most likely to cause me concern?” Added taxes to protect both, but not you.

  • nik

    Travelling by car can be pretty boring, but controlling it at least keeps you awake. Without that, a number of people will just fall asleep.
    What happens at the end of the journey, if the car cannot wake the passenger?
    What if someone just wants a package delivered, and doesn’t want to accompany it? Is that catered for? If so, how does the vehicle ensure that the package is safe?

  • Uncle Al

    Sacramento Socialism (SacSoc) protests a one-inch bait fish while killing people to do it. Electric driverless cars only! Tax now, install some day. Bullet cars for everybody!


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