Over the past six years, Google has been developing and testing self-driving vehicles with the intent of enhancing roadway safety. As Google has explained:
Time spent commuting could be time spent doing what you want to do. Deaths from traffic accidents—over 1.2 million worldwide every year—could be reduced dramatically, especially since 94% of accidents in the U.S. involve human error.
While some experts have predicted that these self-driving vehicles could be available in a decade or so, others are now predicting that these cars could be available in as soon as four years. These predictions are generally based on statements made by Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car division, who has explained that his goal is to not have is 12-year-old son have to get a driver’s license.
Some of the Challenges on the Horizon
While the four-year goal for bringing the Google self-driving car to market certainly seems feasible, if not ambitious, there are some challenges that will still have to be overcome before these vehicles can make it to showroom floors. Just some of these challenges include:
- Some lingering bugs– In particular, there are still some specific situations that these self-driving cars are not prepared to handle. For instance, there is still an issue with how these vehicles respond when there may a lot of pedestrians crossing the street (against the traffic light). Additionally, during a recent test ride, one vehicle reportedly stalled after stopping.
- Mass production and development – At this point, Google has seemed to indicate that, once it has worked out all of the bugs, it will bring these cars to market via some type of partnership with “OEMs” or original equipment manufacturers, which would be automakers. It seems that these partnerships have yet to be developed.
- Regulatory barriers – Right now, there is no regulatory framework in the U.S. for self-driving vehicles. Although this has not presented a problem at the moment (as the testing phase is still ongoing), it could become an issue when these vehicles start hitting the streets in large numbers.
- Consumer buy-in – Are people really willing to give up driving? Although some may be, this could be another big challenge in seeing a broad roll-out of these vehicles across the nation.
What do you think about these self-driving cars? Do you think you’d buy one in four or five years? Tell us what you think on Facebook & Google+.
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