Robotics Expert: Self-Driving Cars ‘Absolutely Not’ Ready For Deployment

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Urmson explained that Google is working closely with Foxx's team and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about regulation of these vehicles.

On Friday, the NHTSA said in a report that there are significant legal hurdles to allowing fully autonomous vehicles without steering wheels, according to Reuters. "We are deploying these technologies across more of our portfolio and are also bringing additional safety-enhancing technologies like forward-collision warning to vehicles at all price points, including low-priced models such as the Chevrolet Spark".

Google and other supporters of autonomous vehicles say that, despite some hiccups, driverless technology has the ability to reduce the number of accidents on the road because it removes human error, one of the top causes of crashes. Having identified a school bus, which could of course be stopping to let children off, the self-driving vehicle could then slow down and even have its sensors target critical areas such as the rear of the bus in case a child suddenly appeared.

One of the things Google hopes to influence is the safety laws that govern cars on the road. He said that without unified rules, the vehicles won't be able to travel between states, creating a challenge in delivering the technology in the country.

Joseph Okpaku, vice president of government relations for the ridesharing group Lyft, echoed those comments, saying consistent rules would be important for the planned deployment of self-driving cars by Lyft and GM.

For GM, fresh off of a $500 million investment in Lyft and the $1 billion acquisition of self-driving auto startup Cruise Automation, those efforts could merge sooner than later. This would ensure that the process of ushering in self-driving cars will be much simpler and quicker.

Cummings said it's not yet clear that self-driving cars can safely operate in all situations.

Google: If self-driving cars can pass federal safety tests they should be legal
Google Wants Congress to Help Bring Autonomous Cars to Public Roads

Consumer Watchdog said that Google's own test results demonstrate the need for a driver who can intervene. In developing draft regulations, the DMV held public hearings, and Consumer Watchdog's safety advocates were "mainly the only ones that we've heard from" in opposition to fully autonomous vehicles, Gonzalez said.

"There is no question that someone is going to die using this technology", Cummings said.

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) took a ride in a Tesla with autonomous features Tuesday morning, driving on a bridge over the Potomac River.

"We are on the doorstep of another evolutionary leap in transportation and technology, where concepts that once could only be imagined in science fiction are on the verge of becoming a reality", he said.

"While I enthusiastically support the research, development, and testing of self-­driving cars, as human limitations and the propensity for distraction are real threats on the road", Ms Cummings says in her testimony.

Self-driving cars are "absolutely not" ready for widespread deployment despite a rush to put them to put them on the road, a robotics expert warned Tuesday.

Professor Mary (Missy) Cummings, director of Duke University's Humans and Autonomy Lab and Duke Robotics, testified she wasn't as thrilled about driverless cars as vehicle manufacturers.

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