Google’s self-driving car spin-off, Waymo, discovered a problem whilst testing a “level 3” automated driving system. It showed that the car can drive itself under certain conditions, but in which the human still needs to takeover if the situation becomes tricky. One tesla driver who fell asleep at the wheel of his car, whilst the auto-pilot was engaged, was charged with suspicion of DUI, as it stopped in the middle of a 5-lane highway.
Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, commented; “we found that human drivers over-trusted the technology and were not monitoring the roadway carefully enough to be able to safely take control when needed,” after the publication of Waymo’s 2017 Safety report.
This prompts an important question, will driver-less cars be safe to drive outside the California, Arizona and Nevada bubble? Look to Moscow, a city that is dangerous to drive in because of it’s unpredicted variants, such as weather, driver habits, accidents and speeding. Mix the clear disregard for road safety and automated driving may create more havoc than it’s worth.
Whilst testing automated cars, 150 engineers went to Moscow to test how the car would cope. They discovered that most cars struggled to identify signs, for instance, which were hard to detect in snow or rain, only producing a poor 40% in accuracy.
What about the UK? What is it doing to further itself in this technological sphere? Leading car insurance company, Axa claims that Britain could miss out on autonomous vehicle revolution owing to the shortage of charging bays and National Grid limitations. There are about 125,000 plug-in electric cars in the UK and 14,000 chargers, however the government are already pledging by 2021, to have driver-less cars on the UK roads.
Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, said he will provide £1bn of new spending for hi-tech projects, including £75m for research on artificial intelligence, £400m for electric car charging points and £100m to boost clean car sales.
2021 is only a mere 3 years away, but will we be ready? Will we be able to adapt or reject technology to preserve city culture?
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