Ijaw Dictionary Online

How Automobiles Work

California said earlier this year that it
was preparing to allow autonomous-car companies to test their vehicles on the state’s roads
without a safety driver behind the wheel. That was before a self-driving Uber car with
a safety driver knocked down and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, and also before
an incident in California that saw a Tesla car crash while in semi-autonomous mode, resulting
in the death of the driver. Despite these recent tragedies, the California
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is pressing ahead with its plan, and from April 2 gave
the go-ahead for autonomous-car tests on public roads, without the need of a safety driver. But only one of around 50 companies currently
testing their cars in the state has so far applied for a permit that will allow it to
send out an unmanned vehicle, according to Gizmodo. And the DMV hasn’t yet assessed the application. In light of recent events, it’s little surprise
that companies such as Waymo, Lyft, Ford, BMW, Nissan, and Honda — all of which are
testing autonomous cars in California — are in no rush to get their applications in. Or it might be that they’re simply not ready
to take such a step, regardless of the accidents involving Uber and Tesla. California’s move to allow empty self-driving
vehicles on its roads demonstrates the state’s determination to be at the forefront of autonomous-car
development in the U.S. While many states now allow some form of testing
on their public roads, Arizona is the only other state to allow autonomous-car tests
without a safety driver, with Waymo recently posting a video showing passenger reactions
as they took a ride in one of its cars in Phoenix. In a document viewable online, California’s
DMV sets out the requirements that need to be met for companies to secure one of the
new permits. They include the need for a constant communication
link between the vehicle and a “remote operator” that provides real-time data on the car’s
location and status, as well as the submission of a “law enforcement interaction plan”
detailing how the company will deal with first responders in the event of an incident involving
one of its driverless vehicles. If and when companies do get around to applying
for a permit, they’ll have to pay $3,600 to process the application, which allows up
to 10 driverless autonomous test vehicles to hit the streets. The recent high-profile accidents involving
Uber and Tesla are a serious setback for the autonomous-car industry as it seeks to win
the hearts and minds of a skeptical public. Waymo, for one, is making efforts to explain
the technology to the public.

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