The Recent Bumpy Road For Self-Driving Cars

There has been signs recently of an acceleration of self-driving technology. What was once a luxury way to parallel park and a cute side project for Google seems to be getting closer to being a widely-available technology. But there are still some barriers to widespread acceptance.

First, some signs that self-driving cars might be coming to streets near you. At least in California

The Golden State has proposed new regulations for the testing and deployment of fully autonomous vehicles, aka, self-driving cars. The new guidelines included the removal of a previous requirement that a human driver had to be behind the wheel while testing on public roads.

And not only will someone not have to be behind the wheel. There doesn’t need to be a wheel anymore. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles also backed down on a previous rule that required a steering wheel and pedals in the vehicles for the operator to take back control.

The new regulations are an update of rules put in place about two years ago, which had required human drivers, a steering wheel and pedals. The proposed regulations have a 45-day public comment period that ends on April 24, which will be followed by a public hearing. The California DMV expects the rules to be completed by the end of the year.

The lack of a wheel is good news for Volkswagen, which unveiled a concept car that it is calling a “lounge on wheels.” The self-driving vehicle features swing doors and a big OLED screen that can be used as an entertainment center.

The car is call Sedric and was introduced as a concept car at the Geneva International Motor Show.

While car makers and the State of California are getting more comfortable with cars that are truly self driving, most people are not. A recent poll showed that about three out of four people still fear the technology.

The survey, which was released by AAA, showed that 78% of those surveyed reported feeling afraid of traveling in a self-driving car. This is unchanged from a similar finding from a survey conducted last year. People are apparently willing to face their fears, though. The survey also showed that more than half of people – 59% to be exact – want autonomous technologies in their next vehicle.

Like almost any fear, the unknown is the key component. AAA also found that drivers who own vehicles equipped with semi-autonomous features are 75 percent more likely to trust the technology than those that do not own it.

The self-driving cars are expected to eliminate the human error that causes 90 percent of crashes. In the state, some 3,000 people die on the roads every year.

And with any developing business, first you get the geniuses, then you get the entrepreneurs. Then you get the lawyers.

Waymo, owned by Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, has filed suit to keep Uber from using self-driving operations.

The motion for the injunction comes a few weeks after Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber and the head of its self-driving division, Anthony Levandowski, accusing them of theft of a key technology system.

Levandowski had joined Uber when the ride-hailing service acquired his startup, Otto, last year.

Waymo alleges that Levandowski stole the company’s proprietary design for its laser-based radar system. According to Waymo, before Levandowski left Google he downloaded 14,000 “highly confidential” files to an external hard drive, including the design for the company’s lidar circuit board.

RTTNews newswire contributed to this article
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