• Are You Ready To Embrace The Reality Of Driverless Cars?
  • December 28, 2017
  • American motorists are used to driving cars. They are not used to their autos taking over that responsibility.

    Would you be able to sit back and relax while your new Ford, boasting artificial intelligence, drives you and your family across town for Sunday dinner at Grandma's house?

    Manufacturers move at top speed

    Automakers are vying with technology companies to commercialize autonomous car production and market their new vehicles to what they hope is an eager driverless car-buying public. The Ford Motor Company is planning to put autonomous cars out in 2021. General Motors has expanded its fleet of driverless Bolt electric cars from 50 to 180 and is testing them in metropolitan areas, such as Detroit and San Francisco. Meanwhile, Apple is leasing cars from Hertz to test driverless technology, and Google has reached a similar agreement with Avis.

    Bills under consideration

    Congress is debating bills that would enable the expansion of on-road testing of driverless vehicles. This is what the manufacturers want. They are eager for public acceptance, but they must first prove that autonomous cars are safe. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration currently allows manufacturers to perform field tests within certain guidelines. While advocates assert that driverless cars would dramatically reduce the number of traffic fatalities each year, automakers worry about the emergence of "patchwork" state-level rules going into effect. The overall feeling is that the handling of regulations should occur at the federal level.

    Not any time soon

    You have probably seen or read news items about driverless vehicle crashes, which is why you may not feel comfortable yet with the thought of your new Ford taking you over to Grandma's, or anywhere else, for that matter. You figure you might just end up at the emergency room instead. You may therefore feel relieved to know that deliberations on Capitol Hill will probably continue for some time, and so will the field tests. The general feeling of those in the know seems to be that it will be years before driverless vehicles become a common sight on the roadways.