Autonomous Car Technology Poses Challenges To Designers

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Safety

Multiple news agencies have indicated that, according to Google, self-driving cars will be available to consumers everywhere in the next three to five years, however, federal regulators and auto insurance companies are not so sure it can be accomplished that quickly.

The reports indicate that in order to allow self-driving cars to hit the roads, regulators must first know for a fact that automakers responsible for the manufacturing of the autonomous cars have mastered sensors and software that never fail. The technology would have to be perfected in order to anticipate any potential outcome and react much like humans do, in the face of a potentially dangerous situation.

The decision will have to be made in a state level in order to come to terms with the fact these machines will require special licenses and the insurance industry would have to reconsider how to assign fault in the case of accidents.

According to Google, the company is not worried about producing the vehicles for sale. Its driverless car unit is only introducing the technology and testing it on public roads in Nevada and California. The company hired the former deputy director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be Google’s main connection with U.S. regulators.

According to one of the main designers of the self-driving car, Google’s biggest challenge is ensuring that the software the autonomous car is equipped with will make the vehicle work flawlessly since a failure could result in a deadly accident.

Google’s autonomous car unit is working incessantly to focus on ensuring reliability in order to build trust and make consumers feel safe while utilizing the driverless car technology. In a vehicle completely operated by a person, once the power steering fails and the light goes off, it’s up to the driver behind the wheel to decide what to do and be in control of the situation. If a self-driving car faces the same issues, it’s up to the technology and system to respond. There’s no room for error and because of that, Google still may have a long road ahead in order to perfect this technology and make it reliable and effective.

The NHTSA enforces standards and requirements that govern the minimum performance when it comes to design, safety and reliability. The federal agency would have to develop an entire new set of regulations and standards for self-driving electronics in order to test them properly and allow companies to make the technology available to the consumer.

To learn more about the challenges Google, the insurance industry and automakers will face while attempting to make the driverless cars available to the media, click here for the full article.


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