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Experts Recommend Putting the Brakes on Autonomous Cars

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Nissan Autonomous Drive

The United States and several technology firms are working hard to make self-driving cars a reality as soon as possible. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked automakers in January at the Detroit Auto Show for a comprehensive plan for autonomous car roll out in just six months. While that doesn’t mean that we would be able to buy self-driving cars in six months, lawmakers and regulators would then start to spend serious time coming up with rules and regulations for when these vehicle are on the road, which could take about eight years.

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If that seems a bit fast, you’re not alone. The Association of Global Automakers has come forward to warn the NHTSA that the timeline was way too fast for the technology’s current stage. While many automakers are on board with autonomous cars, like Nissan, many acknowledge that there are simply too many variables for a concrete policy to be put in place.

Even if new laws were passed to regulate self-driving cars in America, our roads are nowhere near ready for the technology. Many self-driving technologies rely on clearly painted road markings, which are not in place in several metropolitan areas. Autonomous vehicles are not yet ready to recognize policemen and take their directions, and traffic control devices, like stoplights and turn arrows, can vary wildly from state to state (or even city to city).

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The government fired back by saying that self-driving cars are already technically on the road, with many safety systems in new vehicles allowing the car to take control of itself to maintain its lane or prevent a collision. Perhaps a compromise can be reached between the two parties, with the government working quickly to see what regulations these safety systems might need, but taking their time on more complete systems that, in many cases, aren’t even fully developed yet.

News Source: US News

  • Ethan L.

    I’ve often wondered about autonomous cars and how they would deal with situations like missing or invisible lane markings (rain and snow can obliterate markings, as well as normal wear and neglect), traffic cops, unclear signals (I have seen signals that were poorly installed where you couldn’t easily discern what lane or even which roadway the signal was supposed to control), and other situations where a human can decide what action is safest but a computer may not. If autonomous vehicle technology is so mature and capable, why is it not being used in aircraft, where there are no roads to follow and where the rules of how and where to fly are well established?