regulators at odds over timing of self
UPDATED: 1/6/13 12:49 pm ET
WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) Google Inc. sees self driving cars being available to consumers in three to five years. Regulators and the insurance industry aren’t so sure it can happen that quickly.
Software and electronic sensors couldn’t fail and would have to anticipate and react like a human. States may have to decide how to license machines rather than people.
Insurance companies have to reassess how to assign fault after accidents.
Safety standards have to be rewritten to focus on electronics along with mechanics.
“The improvement can be such that we can make cars that drive safer than people do,” Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google’s self driving car technology, told a Society of Automotive Engineers meeting in Washington last week. “I can’t tell you you’ll be able to have a Google car in your garage next year. We expect to release the technology in the next five years. auto safety regulators are eager to reap the safety benefits that may come from taking human error out of driving.
About 33,000 people die annually in traffic crashes in the United States, with that number falling yet killing almost as many people each year as suicide. National Highway Traffic Safety A converse uk dministration, used an analogy to “The Jetsons,” a 1960s animated television comedy featuring gadgets including a flying car that folded into a briefcase.
“It’s going to make a huge difference in reducing crashes overall,” Stickland said in an interview.
While crash avoidance systems that can alert a driver or apply brakes in advance of a wreck are coming to cars now, autonomous vehicles “are a long way off,” he said.
The self driving car is among projects stemming from Google’s practice of letting employees develop ideas not necessarily tied to online search and digital advertising.
The car is allowed on public roads for testing purposes in Nevada, California and Florida.
Google ha converse uk sn’t indicated interest in producing the cars for sale.
“Our focus is on the technology itself,” Google spokesman said Jay Nancarrow.
The company has demonstrated it on the streets of Washington and other cities where it might need to win favor for such a car to be considered road worthy.
Google also established a connection with regulators by hiring Ronald Medford, NHTSA’s deputy converse uk director under Strickland, as of last month as director of safety for the self driving car.
GM demonstrated the self driving ability of the GM EN V urban mobility concept vehicle at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Photo credit: BLOOMBERGLevan converse uk dowski, who helped design the self driving car, says Google’s biggest challenge is ensuring reliability of the software that makes the car drive, because a failure would mean nothing is controlling the vehicle.
“We’re really focusing on building in the reliability so we can trust and understand the system will perform safely in all conditions,” Levandowski said. “How can you trust the system? How do you know how it can perform? How do you design it with proper processes in order to understand and minimize failure? How do you bake into a car redundant braking?”
In a car driven by a person, if the power steering fails or a light goes off, a person would be in control to figure out what to do. A self driving car would need to be taught how to respond to all sorts of scenarios that may occur with little to no room for error.
Some of the standards date to the agency’s creation in the 1970s. The agency would need to create standards for electronics of a self driving car and figure out how to test them, said Dan Smith, associate administrator for vehicle safety.