The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent a recent message to Google allowing the driverless car initiative to move forward yet another step. Paul Hemmersbaugh, NHTSAChief Counsel, wrote the letter. According to Reuters, the regulatory body now considers computer systems onboard these vehicles to be the driver.
Although this doesn’t remove all obstacles to mass deployment of driverless vehicles, the recognition by the NHTSA is a huge step forward in the technology.
AI is a huge leap forward
This may seem like a straightforward development, since the computer is clearly driving the vehicle. The NHTSA’s letter to Google shows that regulators are beginning to accept the possibility of self-driving cars in the future.
This correspondence has the first apparent ramification of how blame will be shared in the event that an accident occurs. The letter doesn’t address fault in detail but the NHTSA considers the car to be the driver. This means that passengers inside the vehicle won’t be considered to have been “behind it” when a crash occurs. Google and Volvo have stated publicly that they will assume full responsibility for any accident involving one of their driverless cars.
These self-driving cars could reduce the number accidents caused by human error. Google’s cars are perhaps too cautious. In 2009, a Google car was stuck at a stop sign because other human-driven cars wouldn’t stop. The car had to wait until its safety software told it to move. It is difficult to program a simple thing like rolling through a stop sign in a computer system. However, this example shows the level of safety these vehicles observe while driving.
There are still many obstacles to overcome
This is a huge step forward for the driverless car sector, but there are still many challenges before self-driving cars become a commonplace on the roads. One of the issues is that many drivers are reluctant to lose control of their cars. Google is reminded by the letter that there are many regulations that require auto manufacturers to include objects such as steering wheels and foot brakes into their cars.
These may seem like essential equipment, but Google doesn’t like the idea that humans can take control of their cars whenever they want. The Reuters article noted that the NHTSA is fully aware of this concern. The letter stated that regulations must be changed if Google wants autonomous cars.
Google still has a long way to go before its car is mass-deployed, but this latest development from NHTSA shows that regulatory bodies recognize this technology’s viability.
Cisco at the forefront of IoT development
This recognition of self-driven cars is a significant milestone for automakers, but it also shows how the Internet of Things trend continues to gain momentum. A driverless car would absolutely need an Internet connection, a technology Cisco is constantly innovating.
Cisco is showing serious interest with recent acquisitions and its Internet of Everything initiative. An infographic created by Cisco for Wired discusses the benefits of a connected vehicle.
The graphic shows that these cars could “talk” to the computers at mechanic shops and tell them about problems with their functionality before they become major problems. Google and other driverless car manufacturers would be able to point out the safety features of their vehicles. A human driver would not be able to detect a mechanical problem before it started affecting their driving.
Cisco is well-known for its networkworking abilities, so it makes sense that Cisco would move into IoT. Although it is impossible to predict what technology will be used in the future of driverless cars it is clear that Cisco is doing everything possible to position itself within this revolution.
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