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Zero-Pollution, Autonomous Cars Are Heading to Utah

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【Summary】Utah, thanks to the Utah State University’s Center for Sustainable Electrified Transportation, is getting a jump on autonomous vehicles that don’t pollute.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 12, 2017 9:00 AM PT
Zero-Pollution, Autonomous Cars Are Heading to Utah

Self-driving vehicles continue to spread to other states in the United States. Until recently, the federal government allowed individual states to regulate autonomous vehicles, as they seem fit. In June, Wisconsin's Governor, Scott Walker, signed an executive order that created a clear path for companies and automakers to test vehicles in the state. Wisconsin is home to one of 10 proving grounds in the country, as the U.S. Department of Transportation designated the UW-Madison College of Engineering as one of the locations. 

Texas followed suit shortly after when governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that would allow companies and automakers to test driverless vehicles without a driver behind the wheel. And while a U.S. House panel recently approved a broad proposal on autonomous vehicles, some states are still taking it upon themselves to set the standard for self-driving cars. 

Utah Enters The Driverless Fray

According to a report by Fox 13, Utah is the latest state to get into the self-driving action. "For so long, we've been saying, ‘This is coming, it's in the future, it's going to be decades.' This is happening right now," said Rep. Robert Spendlove. 

Fox 13 reports that members of the Utah State Legislature's Transportation Interim Committee toured Utah State University's Center for Sustainable Electrified Transportation last week. While there, they got a close-up look at self-driving cars, modern batteries that are capable of holding a larger charge, and zero-pollution buses that can charge themselves. 

"This is an exciting time," said Regan Zane, the director of the USU testing facility. "There really is no facility like it in the U.S. The ability to look at this intersection between autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, smart mobility concepts." 

According to the outlet, lawmakers piled into a 20-seat bus that emitted absolutely zero pollution. The bus also charges itself wirelessly, obtaining juice by moving over a series of charging tracks that are embedded into the road, claims Fox 13. The bus, as the report states, was silent and quick to accelerate, two upsides to an electric powertrain. 

It's Going To Be A Bumpy Road

While the state, and the committee members, is looking forward to accepting autonomous vehicles as part of an automotive future, they have some concerns about who will be at fault when driverless cars get into an accident and relieving people's concerns when it comes to knowledge about self-driving machines. 

"We don't want SkyNet," said Rep. Karen Kwan, referring to the killer artificial intelligence in the "Terminator" movies. "Nobody wants that, but we do want our technology to work for us." 

Utah is already using autonomous vehicles for mining and agricultural operations, reports Fox 13. The outlet claims that estimates dictate that 21 million self-driving vehicles will have been purchased in 2035. Zane believes that the figure could be achieved much sooner. "It's a concern and an opportunity," he said. 

Rep. Spendlove, as the report claims, stated the Utah State Legislature supports emerging technologies, mentioning that USU is a top-rated research school. Regulation, though, as Spendlove states, will be crucial. 

"States have a role in regulating this kind of technology and we want to make sure as lawmakers, as policy makers are considering these issues, they do so with an understanding of what the technology is," Spendlove said. 

While implementing the technology that the committee interacted with at the university, like wireless charging, would be incredibly expensive, it would allow the state to be prepared for the autonomous future when it arrives. 

via: Fox 13 Now

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