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Major challenges facing self-driving car makers

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【Summary】Lyft president John Zimmer believes,  “a majority” of rides will be in autonomous vehicles by 2021. However, currently only nine states and Washing-ton, D.C., have laws on the books related to autonomous vehicles. And in terms of being completely autonomous, there still remain quite a few big challenges, according to USAToday.

Original Lydia    Oct 04, 2016 6:30 PM PT
Major challenges facing self-driving car makers
Claire Pu

By Claire Pu

People might say that the era of self-driving cars will come in ten years. Lyft president John Zimmer believes,  "a majority" of rides will be in autonomous vehicles by 2021. However, currently only nine states and Washing-ton, D.C., have laws on the books related to autonomous vehicles. And in terms of being completely autonomous, there still remain quite a few big challenges, according to USAToday.

The umber one problem is the risk in the Automated Driver Assist Systems that are already in many new vehi-cles. To be frank, it could fall short of enabling the sensors, cameras, radar and light-detecting technology from guiding a vehicle without human input. For example, 40-year-old Joshua Brown died when his Tesla crashed into a tractor-trailer, with its autopilot feature on. However, autopilot by name, it isn't fully autonomous. Therefore, customers need to be educated about self-autonomous cars and their current limitations. 

Second, the mass of peoples around the world might not be fully embracing the self-driving idea. The traffic situations can vary and are often very complicated. When a self-driving car mingles in a jammed road with other human-driving cars that are unpredictable, is the autonomous machine smart enough to avoid accidents?

Third, how to define the level of vehicle autonomy. The government is setting aside its four-level gradation of autonomy and in its place will adopt the five-level definition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Level 0 = no automation. Level 1 = limited automation but with driver controlling all driving situations. Level 2 = partial au-tomation where software can control acceleration and braking. Level 3 = conditional autonomy where the soft-ware and sensors accelerate and brake and monitor the vehicles' environment, but it can alert the driver to take control when needed. Level 4 =  high automation where the sensors, radar, cameras and software can guide the car to a safe position if the driver fails to re-engage. Level 5 = full automation where the technology can navigate and manage any situation and the driver need not be engaged.

Clearly, level 5 hasn't been reached as of yet. And the self-driving car still requires a driver behind the wheel.

Fourth, states around the USA will have different rules. The state of California currently requires a car to be equipped with steering wheel and control pedals. Google has said its goal is to remove all physical controls from the car. Ford also has said it intends to offer a vehicle without a steering wheel and pedals for use in a ride-hailing fleet by 2021. So who will compromise? The final say might lie in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to a report by McKinsey & Co, fully automated vehicles could prevent 90% of traffic accident deaths. In 2015, 35,200 people died in traffic accidents, with 95 percent of which caused by human error. And currently, NHTSA is encouraging more than impeding the advancement of self-driving cars. It's ok to imagine an era of fully self-driving cars as we might embrace an extremely regulated accident-free road.

Resource from: USAToday


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