A lot has been happening lately in the shift to autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars. Automakers, tech companies and even the U.S. government are beginning to push to see more self-driving vehicles on the road.
The self-driving vehicle is gaining momentum
On September 6, the U.S. House of Representatives passed unanimously a bill that would ease the path for automakers to begin deploying self-driving vehicles. The bill would prevent states from creating tougher regulations for self-driving cars and allow the first 20,000 cars from every automaker to avoid certain regulations.
In July, Tesla revealed its lowest-priced mid-market sedan, which contains assisted driving technology. On September 14, the U.S. Department of Transportation released an updated version of its self-driving car guidelines, which at this point are non-binding but provide a guide for automakers around the world looking to expand into the self-driving vehicle revolution.
At this point, autonomous vehicles seem like simply a matter of when, not if.
Will safety concerns lessen with autonomous vehicles?
One of the key issues involved in self-driving cars is safety. The vast majority of car accidents involve human error. Drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding remain leading causes of accidents. Self-driving vehicles have the potential to greatly reduce the harm people suffer on the nation’s roads.
However, it is not yet clear how much safer autonomous vehicles will be. Tesla specifically warns drivers not to rely on the self-driving technology in its vehicles, and fatal accidents have occurred to people who were using assisted driving technology.
Other safety concerns involve the “decision-making” of future cars. For example, when a car must choose between avoiding an obstacle ahead – for example, a child running across the street – or put the lives of passengers at risk – what will it choose?
In the meanwhile, safe driving remains the best bet
We hope that autonomous vehicles eventually lower the risk of driving. Until that day comes, however, the best bet is still to practice defensive driving, and watch out for unsafe drivers.