The Struggle is Real when it comes to Regulating Autonomous Vehicle Safety

Posted by Ed Burke on Mar 23, 2017 3:00:00 PM

autonomous vehicle.jpg

Self-Driving vehicles (or AV's - autonomous vehicles) are the undisputed next frontier in consumer transport technology. Automakers, it appears, are anxious for Federal Guidelines to be put in place in order to tailor their roll outs, and be assured that they are in compliance with safety expectations, as well as in order to circumvent the mess of State's adopting their own patchwork regulations in leiu of uniform federal regulations. 

There is a difficult cost-benefit analysis in play on timing rollouts, especially as pertains to Safety. 

AVs have the potential to have a life changing positive impact on people who are disabled or otherwise not physically able to drive a standard vehicle. Additionally, AVs remove human error from traffic incidents - and human error is estimated to be responsible for 94% of all traffic fatalities. 

The problem is, how safe is safe enough for AVs to rollout?

It's somewhat of a "catch 22" - autonomous vehicles "learn" to adapt by reacting to real world driving situations to improve their own safety, essentially, but what is the threshold at which we allow them out onto the roadways to improve in the first place? How much of a risk will early adopters be taking? 

I wrote an article for this month's issue of Oil & Energy Magazine on the topic of making Autonomous Vehicles safe enough - what that means, and what the next steps are for the industry and the federal government. You can read that article here: "Making Driverless Vehicles Safe"

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Topics: Safety, Technology, AVs

Uber's Otto Delivers on Driverless Big Rig Technology

Posted by Ed Burke on Feb 20, 2017 3:00:00 PM

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This past October, a Volvo 18 wheeler delivered 2,000 cases of Budweiser in Colorado - with no driver at the wheel!

Say hello to Otto, Uber's self-driving big rig.

Before you panic - It's hailed as a solution for the trucking industry's driver supply problem, versus being a replacement for drivers in general. The company is quick to point out that the application is only really able to be used on the highway i.e. long haul routes. The technology is nowhere near where it would need to be to even consider reacting to real world tough urban obstacles like bike riders, pedestrians, and things like tourists trying drive through the Back Bay in Boston.  

As of now, the pilot programs appear to be going well when it comes to these self driving big rigs. Arguably, long haul truck routes should be the initial phase in of AV technology, because of the lack of aforementioned city obstacles.

The how safe equation is an ongoing issue when it comes to autonomous cars as well (you can read about that here: "The Struggle is Real when it comes to Autonomous Vehicle Safety" But it appears that the big rigs are passing thus far with flying colors, and multiple manufacturers are looking to get similar options onboarded. It's big news potentially for the trucking industry as well, as drivers retire and move on, there has been a real struggle to find qualified applicants to fill the spots. (They just don't make 'em like they used to, as they say... We're looking at you Kevin!)

I wrote an article for this month's edition of Oil & Energy Magazine detailing Otto's debut, and what it means going forward for the trucking industry as well as the technology itself. You can read that article here: "Otto: Uber's Self Driving Big Rig Delivers"

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Topics: Safety, Oil & Energy Magazine, AVs

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