regulations that allow for totally autonomous vehicles. The mission of Rosekind’s group, the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, is to focus on public policy issues. (Other members include Volvo and ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft.) More groups that support the development of autonomous cars include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, AARP and various associations for disabled persons. Automakers are already putting some self-driving features, like automatic braking and steering, into current models. There are three things
THE FUTURE IS NOW BY DAVID A. ROSE
he auto industry has evolved tremendously in the last decade. The day is coming soon when you will phone your car and have it pick you up at a designated location without a human driver. The world of autonomous vehicles is fast becoming a reality. Several companies have begun testing driverless cars, and unique alliances are being formed. One such alliance is Ford Motor Company and Google. Google has been at the forefront of testing driverless models and Ford is accelerating development of a wide range of autonomous vehicles. Ford’s chief executive, Mark Fields, has said that his company plans to form partnerships with other firms to assist with developing autonomous vehicles, while Google recently announced that it will also work with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to produce 100 autonomous versions of the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid minivan. They are planning a test program in four U.S. cities to begin at the end of this year. The U.S. government plans to expedite regulatory guidelines for autonomous vehicles and to invest in research to help bring them to market. The nation’s top auto safety regulator, Mark Rosekind, said the federal government was hopeful that driverless technology could reduce the annual death toll from traffic accidents. In 2014, the last year for which data was available, 32,675 people died in auto accidents, more than 90 percent of which were the result of bad decisions made by drivers. The coalition led by Ford and Google is urging swift passage of
required to turn a regular car into an automated one. First is a GPS system pretty much like the ones found in vehicles today. Second is a system to recognize dynamic conditions on the roads. Third is a way to turn the information from the two systems into action. Sensors feeding information into the differential GPS include cameras that let the car’s computers see what’s around it, radar that allows the vehicle to see up to 100 meters away in the dark, rain, snow, or other vision-impairing circumstances, and lasers that operate like spinning sirens to check for objects around your vehicle. There is hope that, in the future, all cars will be able to talk to each other in a connected vehicle environment. Your car would know precisely where other vehicles are, where they’re going, and where they will turn, so the computers can navigate smoothly. Clearly, the future has arrived.