Just last week, the Obama administration proposed spending nearly $4 billion during the next decade for the government to work with auto makers and others to craft policies and rules for vehicles that can move without a driver at the wheel. The proposal also will set up pilot programs for testing “connected vehicles” that avoid crashes by talking to each other. And include accelerating the acceptance of driverless cars on U.S. roads and curb traffic fatalities and travel delays.
Who’s Leading the Driverless Car Race?
Google's self-driving cars logged far more miles in California than similar prototypes operated by Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen/Audi and Delphi, with a much lower rate of incidents requiring the automated systems to disengage and hand manual control to the driver, according to annual reports filed this month with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Google: prototypes drove more than 424,000 miles is 13 months with 272 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Mercedes-Benz: prototypes drove more than 1,700 miles in 13 months with 1,031 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Nissan/Infiniti: prototypes logged 1,485 miles in 12 months with 106 incidents requiring dis engagement of the automated systems.
Volkswagen/Audi: prototypes logged nearly 15,000 miles in 13 months with 260 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Delphi: a supplier of automated systems and components to carmakers, prototypes logged more than 16,600 miles in 13 months with 405 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
And Now for the Driving Experience
During our research for this blog, we stumbled on a new to us blog. It’s from The Oatmeal. This bog is focused on the Google Self Driving car and since Google is leading the pack of driverless cars, wanted to share excerpts from The Oatmeal’s experience.
1. Human beings are terrible drivers.
We drink. We doze. We text. In the US, 30,000 people die from automobile accidents every year. Traffic crashes are the primary cause of death worldwide for people aged 15-24. This is one of Google’s "moonshots" -- to remove human error from a job which, for the past hundred years, has been entirely human.
2. Google self-driving cars are timid.
The car we rode in did not strike me as dangerous. It struck me as cautious. It drove slowly and deliberately, and I got the impression that it’s more likely to annoy other drivers than to harm them. Google can adjust the level of aggression in the software, and the self-driving prototypes currently tooling around Mountain View are throttled to act like nervous student drivers.
3. They're cute.
Google's new fleet was intentionally designed to look adorable. Our brains are hardwired to treat inanimate (or animate) objects with greater care, caution, and reverence when they resemble a living thing.
4. It’s not done and it’s not perfect.
Some of the scenarios autonomous vehicles have the most trouble with are the scenarios human beings have the most trouble with, such as traversing four-way stops or handling a yellow light (do you brake suddenly, or floor it and run the light?).
Despite the advantages over a human being in certain scenarios, however, these cars still aren't ready for the real world. They can't drive in the snow or heavy rain, and there's a variety of complex situations they do not process well, such as passing through a construction zone. Google is hoping with enough logged miles and data, eventually the cars will be able to handle all of this as well (or better) than a human could.
5. I want this technology to succeed, like … yesterday.
I'm biased. Earlier this year my mom had a stroke. It damaged the visual cortex of her brain, and her vision was impaired to the point that she'll probably never drive again. This reduced her from a fully-functional, independent human being with a career and a buzzing social life into someone who is homebound, disabled, and powerless.
The facts are 45% of disabled people in the US still work. 95% of a car's lifetime is spent parked. This technology could transform the lives of the elderly, or eradicate the need for parking lots or garages or gas stations. They ignore the great, big, beautiful picture staring them right in the face: that this technology could make our lives so much better.
6. It wasn’t an exhilarating ride, and that's a good thing.
Riding in a self-driving car is not the white-knuckled, cybernetic thrill ride one might expect. The car drives like a person, and after a few minutes you forget that you’re being driven autonomously.
I say look at the bigger picture. All the self-driving cars currently on the road learn from one another, and each car now collectively possesses 40 years of driving experience. And this technology is still in its infancy.
Dean & Draper
With new technology comes challenges, resistance, and sometimes miraculous innovation. We are intrigued with driverless cars and the stunning opportunities for a much safer driving experience so we plan to keep you updated.
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