Tuesday 18 May 2021
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Self-driving car under the spotlight


….As tech companies and automakers ask regulators to speed up self-driving car adoption

Tech companies and automakers asked regulators to create a smooth path for self-driving cars to legally drive on US roads as soon as possible at a public forum last week, The Verge reported.
The forum was the second held so far by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) before it issues the first US safety guidelines for self-driving cars later this year.
Speakers at the administration’s first forum on the topic offered mixed opinions about whether the arrival of self-driving cars should be slowed or sped up, The Verge reported. In contrast, speakers at this second forum unanimously urged the administration to implement as few barriers as possible to self-driving car adoption.
The forum was held at Stanford University’s Center for Automotive Research, and several tech companies and consumer-watchdog groups joined automakers like GM and Toyota in testifying. A representative from the Toyota Research Institute called on the NHTSA to wait until self-driving car technology is ready for market before it sets any guidelines.
One issue where the presenters diverged on their opinions was allowing fully autonomous cars that don’t have a steering wheel. Google, Ford, and others want federal regulations to allow such fully autonomous vehicles.
But a representative from Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group, said that such vehicles would be too dangerous to allow. This will likely be the most heated issue around self-driving cars going forward, as many companies want to take advantage of fully autonomous cars for ride-hailing and car-sharing services.
The NHTSA has said in the past that it wants to issue regulations for self-driving cars soon, as more cars will hit the road over the next few years with rudimentary self-driving systems, like Tesla’s Autopilot program. The NHTSA said that it is still on track to deliver its guidelines in July.
The self-driving car market is poised to take off, but there are still several roadblocks in the way. Forums such as the one held last week should keep the dialogue going and help get the cars on the road.
John Greenough, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that examines the major strides automakers and tech companies have made to overcome the barriers currently preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the market. Further, the report examines global survey results showing where fully autonomous cars are
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
Three barriers have been preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the road: (1) high technological component prices, (2) varying degrees of consumer trust in the technology, and (3) relatively nonexistent regulations. But in the past six months, there have been many advances in overcoming these barriers.
Technology has been improving as new market entrants find innovative ways to expand on existing fully autonomous car technology. As a result, the price of the components required for fully autonomous cars has been dropping.
Consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicle technology has increased in the past two years.
California became the first US state to propose regulations. They stipulate that a fully autonomous car must have a driver behind the wheel at all times, discouraging Google’s and Uber’s idea of a driverless taxi system.-Business Insider

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