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August 25th, 2016

The Future of Self-Driving Vehicles

Self-driving cars have been in the news in the past couple of years, first with Google’s self-driving cars; now many other manufacturers are getting into the market. As of this May, Tesla started test driving the autopilot function of the new Model X in Houston, Texas. Cities have made steps to encourage test driving all over the United States in hopes to bring high-tech jobs with them. Singapore just became the first country to have self-driving taxis on the streets. Since autonomous cars are in the beginning stages of road travel, safety is a concern for many people. The concerns include the fact that there might not be a driver to take over the car if there is a problem or how accurate the sensors will be for pedestrians and other hazards.

Houston Self-Driving Car

One man, test rode in Houston traffic while a Tesla’s autopilot was activated. The autopilot reported doing well while driving with other vehicles during rainy stop- and-go traffic. Most of the new self-driving models can go just as fast as other vehicles; the test car went 80 on the Beltway while the driver ate breakfast. The driver reported that the vehicle did well but “tends to brake a little late. Not dangerously late, but maybe a little later than I would if it were my feet.” The Tesla was able to parallel park on its own, or it can drop off a passenger and park itself in a garage.

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

The first step towards the expansion of self-driving vehicles is starting with taxis in Singapore. Uber is has announced that it will start testing self-driving passenger cars and that they bought a company that’s currently designing autonomous big rigs. The future of autonomous cars is expected to explode in the next decade to slowly include more and more of the market. Some of the main positives behind an entirely independent self-driving vehicle are that people who were limited by a disability or other problem would be able to have more independence. Technology is many years away from every family in the country having a self-driving car, but it is expected to happen either way.

Safety Concerns

There are many concerns about self-driving vehicles, especially the idea of there not being a person inside who could take control of the car. The public requires certainty that their car will stop if you would normally stop or in the case of an emergency. Recently a man was killed while using a self-driving vehicle in Florida. The Tesla’s sensors didn’t pick up the 18-wheeler turning in front of the vehicle because the truck was bright white and was reflecting the sun. With many forms of technology, people do not mind being guinea pigs because there is likely no danger. Self-driving vehicles are much more dangerous to the average person which is why it will require much more testing and safety features.

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