Autonomous Vehicles News Roundup – April 2017

Self-driving car

Was that a driverless car passing by? Oh, no. Not quite yet. But we’re getting close. Let’s take a look at just how close.

Here at Automile, we are all tech enthusiasts—and car enthusiasts. It should come as no surprise that while working with tech every day to help our customers, we can’t help but follow the automotive headlines to see what’s new and exciting.

Driverless vehicles (aka autonomous vehicles) most surely fit that description.

What’s all the Buzz about Autonomous Cars?

An autonomous car is also referred to as a self-driving car or a robotic car—and it’s all over the news. It’s capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human intervention. These vehicles are being developed and rigorously tested, but they’re not traversing our roads quite yet.

Here is the summary of the latest news on these incredible vehicles:

How Soon is Soon?

“How about tapping an app on your smartphone and heading out the door and into a new Mercedes-Benz robo-cab?” asks NBC News in its piece on how virtually every automaker is in the race for autonomous vehicles. This brings a use case to life: a vehicle that comes to its driver, not the other way around.

Will the driver’s hands be on the wheel or off the wheel? Who’s really in the driver’s seat? Is a human being even in the car? The word on the street is that we just don’t know if the cars we see on the roads will be fully autonomous (i.e. driverless) or semi-autonomous, featuring forward collision warnings with auto-breaking, for example.

No one can say for sure when these vehicles—in whichever form(s) they take—will be spotted driving around. And no one knows for sure who the right customer is for these products. One thing everyone can agree on is that these vehicles must prove that they’re safe and dependable…or at least more so than the humans who currently sit at the helm.

In What Context Will the Tech be Deployed?

Harvard Business Review tackles this question, noting that, “Automakers are already producing self-driving autonomy features for specific uses, such as highway driving, in premium vehicles.” They say that driverless vehicle adoption will ultimately depend on three things:

  1. Infrastructure maturity
  2. Technology readiness
  3. Regulation

A city, state, country, or even industry’s unique “stance” in these three areas will help define how and when these vehicles will be widely adopted. Because it has to make sense, right, that these vehicles can safely and affordably operate in its environment and improve upon the way things are already being run? And on that note, business leaders across industries have to participate in the discussion—and help “drive” adoption.

California Love?

Again, let’s start with a question. This one is asked by TechCrunch:“After California’s Department of Motor Vehicles recently proposed new regulations governing the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, many were left to wonder: Will this help retain the state’s status as a testing and deployment ground for the technology, and will it make California safer?

For now, these new regulations seem to make California a friendly pace for testing autonomous vehicles. And that’s KEY because it’s so much more than regulation. It’s talent. The state is “the” place for this work because of its rich development environment—think Silicon Valley, “…home to much of the talent, entrepreneurial ethos and investment startup expertise needed to develop the cars of the future.”

Speaking of, did you know that Automile is located in Silicon Valley, enthusiastically participating in the development of IoT technologies.

Visit the  National Conference of State Legislatures for the latest details on legislation related to self-driving vehicles.