In our Self-Driving Cars, Part V update, we’re pleased to provide industry highlights from 2018.
We’re captivated with the enormous progress of self-driving vehicles in the last few years. While only a decade ago, the concept of self-driving vehicles seemed liked something from the futuristic cartoon “The Jetson’s,” the technology is here! In fact, driverless technology is expected to add $7 trillion to the economy on a global basis.
The Pros and Cons
Many experts believe that the shift to driverless vehicles will have a positive effect, lowering the large number of traffic crashes and fatal accidents caused by human error. In addition, autonomous vehicles can provide needed independent transportation solutions for the elderly, disabled, and improverished. But while much about self-driving vehicles is positive, one of the real downsides is that driverless technology will likely desolate taxi and trucking companies and related businesses.
Where is Waymo?
According to several sources, Waymo, Google parent Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle division just launched its autonomous vehicle ridesharing service last week. The project, Waymo One, makes history as the first company to generate revenues using self-driving vehicles. The company functions like Uber, using a special app that allows users to request and pay for rides. Waymo One uses Chrysler Pacfica Hybrid minivans with limited availability in Phoenix and select suburbs. In the coming months, Waymo One hopes to remove the human backup driver, expand operations, and lower the cost to passengers.
The Auto Manufacturers
Miami made it to the top of the list for traffic congestion as well as bicycle and pedestrian fatalities. While these statistics are very unattractive for city residents, the numbers helped Ford and Argo AI select Miami as the hub to test self-driving vehicles. Meanwhile, Ford has also been creating partnerships with microtransit service Chariot, e-scooter company, Spin, and Walmart through Postmates.
General Motors has indicated that it is developing Cruise, a ride-sharing fleet of self-driving vehicles ready to launch in 2019. Nissan is developing the ProPilot Assist and Tesla is advancing its Autopilot to allow drivers to safely take their hands off the steering wheel. Moreover, Tesla just launched Navigate on Autopilot, a feature that gives its vehicles self-driving capabilities, while requiring that the driver be ready to intervene if necessary.
Uber, Lyft, and Daimler are also still in the race to produce fleets of autonomous ridesharing vehicles. However, the industry hit a wall eight months ago when an Uber self-driving vehicle crashed into a pedestrian crossing a street in Arizona. The pedestrian was killed in the first autonomous vehicle fatality with a pedestrian. The calamity caused Uber to hault self-driving vehicle testing for several months. Now, after much investigation and with stringent safety measures and improved software systems, Uber has received approval to start vehicle testing in the Pittsburgh area.
Startups like May Mobility and Drive.ai are also joining the race with small-scale ride services. May Mobility is deploying micro-transit service with six-passenger electric self-driving vehicles in Detroit. The vehicles are designed for local roads, with a top speed of 25 miles per hour. Drive.ai operates multi-passenger vehicles within small areas of Frisco and Arlington, Texas.
The technology is rapidly advancing, the markets are burgeoning, and industry testing is gaining traction. But once again, while the industry is moving quickly with self-driving vehicles, the question that may stymie the forward movement of the industry is not about the technology, but rather about if and how the federal and local regulation will be able to keep pace with the industry.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about self-driving vehicles.
If you or your loved ones were involved in an injury that involved a self-driving vehicle, Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. may be able to help. Contact us at (954) 428-9333 or www.goldmandaszkal.com.
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