Tuesday, September 20, 2016
The Federal government has announced guidelines for self-driving cars. The rules are voluntary but auto and tech companies are expected to follow them. This has created a balancing act -- how to spur development of safe self-driving cars while protecting passengers and others. There is no rulebook for doing this. Autonomous autos are a new phenomenon although they have been tested for years. The guidelines are an implicit recognition that the technology is here to stay and developers are near the final stages of building mass market offerings of vehicles that will steer, accelerate and brake themselves. This could be a public relations triumph or disaster depending on the quality of technology. We have seen already that Tesla's self-driving software is faulty. At the same time, Google's self-driving machines have traveled millions of miles with only a fender-bender or two when humans in other cars disobeyed rules and common sense. Self-driving autos not only have to look out for themselves but also for the other person be that individual a pedestrian or drunk driver. It is a huge technology challenge and a public relations question mark.