Testing Self-Driving Cars on U.S. Public Roads Might Become More Complicated

Mercedes-Benz E-Class autonomous test car 1 photo
Photo: YouTube screenshot
It feels like not a day went by without hearing about another carmaker or big IT company was joining the foray into autonomous driving technology development.
Not only that, but startups that nobody knew existed promise to deliver various types of vehicles in the coming years that would all have something in common: they come with full self-driving capabilities. How? 'We'll cross that bridge when we come to it' would probably be the answer.

It seemed like autonomous driving presented a paradox: it was, at the same time, the holy grail of the automotive industry, the IT segment, and the ride-hailing companies, but also something anybody could achieve. It almost made the whole thing appear like child play.

Of course, in reality, it's anything but. We already have the sad example of Joshua Brown, the man who thought Tesla's Autopilot system meant he could ignore the car's repetitive requests to take over controls and paid with his life. And even though that was a wake-up call for everyone involved in this process, that doesn't mean we couldn't get similar incidents along the way.

A few companies are already testing fully-autonomous cars on public roads in the U.S., and there are those who think the authorities should be a little more restrictive toward them.

"We think that before automated vehicles are put on the roads, they should be required to go through a functional safety evaluation," said Cathy Chase, vice president of governmental affairs for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, quoted by Auto News. "We think that's a very basic precursor."

One of the main reasons behind the development of self-driving cars was precisely that of cutting down the number of crashes and, therefore, reducing the number of human lives lost. That's precisely why automakers are urging the government to place as fewer hurdles as possible in the legislation related to autonomous vehicles.

However, in a seemingly counter-intuitive move (because both sides cite safety as their driving force), safety advocates say that rushing into it might do more harm than good. Whatever the case, it's clear this is a touchy subject, and one in which we all lack experience - which is a bit worrying, considering the officials will have to pass a legislation, and they're being lobbied hard by automotive trade groups.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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