Although driverless cars are set to be on U.S. roads by 2020 in some form, the questions concerning implementation, regulation and standardization are still looming for regulators.
Find out more about the obstacles self-driving vehicles still face.
The world has moved quickly from wonder at the idea of driverless cars to impatient expectation. The Cadillac SRX zipping around a test track in suburban Detroit is flashing a sign: Not so fast.
The car can pilot itself at highway speed while the person in the driver’s seat eats a hamburger.
Google’s not the only company working on self-driving cars. There are cars already on the road with features to park themselves, adapt to traffic speeds on cruise control, and avoid accidents. And Nissan says it’ll have a fully self-driving vehicle on the road by 2020.
Yet the first versions of General Motors Co. autonomous vehicles, due out by 2020, will drive themselves only on controlled-access highways, such as an interstate. Don’t count on them to avoid accidents on their own; it will be up to a licensed driver behind the wheel to avoid the deer running out from the roadside. The reasons are parts technological, regulatory and psychological.
“The technology’s probably doable, but how do we implement it, how do we regulate it and how do we standardize it?” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with auto researcher Edmunds.com, based in Santa Monica, California, in an interview. What’s more, “there are certain people who want to be in control and they don’t want driving taken away from them.”
The cautiousness in developing fully autonomous technology, like that envisioned by Google, Inc., reflects what GM officials say is a realistic view of what consumers will accept and the rules of the road will allow.
U.S. auto-safety regulators in May released their first draft of an autonomous-vehicles policy. National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland has said so-called active safety technologies that lead to self-driving cars are the next step in cutting U.S. highway deaths.