Fear of Robo-Cars Stalls Support for Driverless Cars in Oregon

By Jon LeSage, con­tribut­ing edi­tor, Deal­er Digest Dai­ly

SITUATION:

  • The state of Ore­gon may be balk­ing at the prospect of dri­ver­less cars com­ing to its roads. While neigh­bor­ing states like Cal­i­for­nia and Neva­da are mov­ing full-steam ahead, a leg­isla­tive bill in Ore­gon has stalled out.
  • House Bill 2428 sought to estab­lish a process for allow the oper­a­tion of autonomous vehi­cles in Ore­gon – it died in com­mit­tee.
  • Rea­sons it fiz­zled out – more fear of robo-cars than intrigue with the technology’s promise to deal with sev­er­al of the state’s prob­lems. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, is con­cerned that in the wake of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, dri­ver­less cars could be used as “drones” to deliv­er armed bombs for ter­ror­ists.
  • The Ore­gon Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion may instead move for­ward with a par­tial­ly-auto­mat­ed con­nect­ed car study – the agency would be more sup­port­ive of this than going straight into a dri­ver­less car pro­gram. That’s where some of the sup­port for the bill fad­ed.

SIGNIFICANCE:

  • Jer­ri Bohard, admin­is­tra­tor of ODOT’s Trans­porta­tion Devel­op­ment Divi­sion, said the agency’s study, expect­ed to be com­plet­ed with­in the next two years, could be used as a “bridge” to even­tu­al­ly licens­ing dri­ver­less vehi­cles such as the .
  • Some in the state leg­is­la­ture are sup­port­ive of the ODOT test pro­gram – lessons can be learned that could set nec­es­sary guide­lines for dri­ver­less cars to lat­er be adopt­ed.
  • This was a big top­ic at the 2013 Soci­ety of Auto­mo­tive Engi­neers Word Con­gress in Detroit. Experts there pre­dict­ed that dri­ver­less cars will be com­mon­ly seen on roads by 2025.
  • Chris­t­ian Schu­mach­er, head of advanced dri­ver assis­tance sys­tems for Con­ti­nen­tal, talked about a dri­ver­less car his com­pa­ny is test­ing that clocked more than 10,000 miles and is licensed in Neva­da.
  • Schu­mach­er thinks par­tial­ly auto­mat­ed cars will on roads in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers by 2016, more high­ly auto­mat­ed ver­sions by 2020, and dri­ver­less by 2025.
  • Cars on the road today already have var­i­ous advanced auto­mat­ed tech­nolo­gies that kick in auto­mat­i­cal­ly for crash avoid­ance and safe­ty, and all of the con­nect­ed car sys­tems will be part of the future dri­ver­less car infra­struc­ture.
  • Fear of robot­ics, loss of pri­va­cy, and des­ti­na­tion of choice are in the back­ground dur­ing these debates. Fas­ci­na­tion and enthu­si­asm for advanced, inte­grat­ed tech­nol­o­gy are on the oth­er side of the debate, along with desire for free­dom of choice while trav­el­ing in a car.
  • Ore­gon over­all is known for being a lib­er­tar­i­an state – it was not sur­pris­ing to see doc­tor-assist­ed sui­cide made legal. Some of the block so far expe­ri­enced in the state leg­is­la­ture may have some­thing to do with that “get big broth­er off my back” sen­si­bil­i­ty. But it won’t be the only state hav­ing to deal with issue – those deal­ing safe­ty, traf­fic con­ges­tion, and fuel effi­cien­cy have to answer these ques­tions.

SOURCE:

 

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