Sometimes the future shows up quickly, right in your rearview mirror. If you haven’t seen much about the self-driving car yet, just keep watching. One innovator of the driverless car concept, also referred to as the autonomous vehicle, is computer scientist Sebastian Thrun, who worked with Stanford University to put a new spin on both the hardware and the software. Thrun used a painful event in his life (the death of his best friend from a car accident) to fuel his work on the development of the Google self-driving car.
Do we really need driverless cars on our roads? In short, yes. According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the U.S., driver error is a factor in at least 60 percent of fatal crashes. Self-driving cars are designed to reduce our distractions, thereby reducing accidents and saving lives.
The driverless car is making steady progress towards legalization on state roads. This week, a bill in the California state senate that requires the DMV to set both safety and performance guidelines for driverless car spassed unanimously; it is expected to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2011, Nevada became the first state to pass a law to officially sanction test-driving autonomous vehicles. Arizona, Florida, Hawaii and Oklahoma are expected to follow suit. Earlier this year, Google received the first U.S. license for the self-driving car from Nevada, with the stipulation that one person must be behind the wheel of the vehicle and another person must be in the passenger seat.
Automakers are embracing the driverless car concept, with General Motors, Audi and BMW all developing self-driving technology. Google’s product manager for the self-driving car project, Anthony Levandowski, refuses to go along with the viewpoint that autonomous vehicles are 10 years away. He told a group of automotive engineers at an industry event in Detroit this year that: “I think it’s time for us to break that cycle…I don’t think we need to wait 10 years for the next model to come out to build this technology.”
According to Scott Belcher, president and CEO of The Intelligent Transportation Society of America, it is society, not technology that will dictate how quickly and how much we’ll see driverless cars on the road. “We’re at this tipping point in society right now and it’s going to be fascinating to watch it play out,” he added. The following infographic is a useful overview of the driverless car, which is poised to change the way we drive, and ultimately, live. Its potential to keep us safer on the road is truly something to applaud.
Source: Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen.
Photo Credit: Luke Jones