With Google Inc. now testing its self-driving car on California highways, automakers and U.S. regulators are anticipating what safety hurdles must be overcome to make vehicle autonomy real.
Regulators see autonomous vehicles as a means to reduce U.S. traffic deaths, which have declined for six straight years while killing an estimated 32,310 people last year.
“Automated driving, and the components of it, really is the next evolutionary step for what we see as safety technology in the passenger fleet,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland said Tuesday at an automated-vehicles forum in Washington sponsored by Volvo Cars. “We have to make sure the technology is reliable.”
An awake person will be required at the helm of even the most independent cars for at least 10 to 20 years, said Peter Mertens, Volvo’s senior vice president for research and development.