Autonomous Cars Continue to Thrive, Come Off of Best Month Yet

With autonomous cars continuing to rack up thousands of miles and the government stepping in to ensure that the machines have a bright future, a driverless future is closer than ever.

Vineeth Joel Patel
    Jul 16, 2017 9:15 AM  PT
Autonomous Cars Continue to Thrive, Come Off of Best Month Yet
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

Just a few years ago, autonomous cars were seen as machines that were still way off in the distance. Machines that once starred in futuristic movies are now roaming public streets, as automakers scramble to make an autonomous future something that's possible in the near future and not in a distant one. As The Verge reports, autonomous cars are coming off of their best month ever. 

Autonomous Cars Are Finally Progressing

Last month, as The Verge claims, Congress and the private sector covering driverless vehicles finally took steps to make an autonomous future possible. The flurry of work that has taken place, as the outlet points out, signals a shift in the way everyone thinks about self-driving cars and proves that human drivers may be a thing of the past. 

Specialists that continuously monitor autonomous technology are impressed with the rapid amount of changes that took place last month, claims The Verge. "Out of the past three years that I've been researching [autonomous vehicle] policy, this is by far the most important month of Congressional action and partnerships I've seen yet," said Greg Rogers, a policy analyst at the Eco Center for Transportation. "What we're seeing right now is that autonomous vehicles are moving from their infancy into their adolescence." 

What's Allowing Autonomous Cars To Grow?

So what exactly happened that changed everyone's minds on self-driving vehicles? As The Verge reports, the first federal legislation to regulate self-driving vehicles in the U.S. was introduced at the end of last month. The 14-bill package gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) NHTSA, as the outlet claims, the ability to not only increase the number of autonomous cars on the road, but to also change the rules surrounding the vehicles. 

Automakers and technology companies that are testing self-driving see the bill as being beneficial, as more vehicles would allow for more testing and having one set of rules to follow instead of 50 individual ones is easier to comply by, reports The Verge. That makes sense as the government has let individual states set standards for self-driving vehicles, allowing Wisconsin and Texas to have vastly different laws. 

"The enabling factor – and maybe the limiting factor – will be the passage of the laws being considered by Congress right now," said Rogers. "Companies like Waymo, Uber, and GM (via Lyft) can only get a critical mass of fully driverless cars on the road if Congress expands NHTSA's exemption authorities and preempts the patchwork of state regulations that are creating a lot of uncertainty right now." 

Remarkably, The Verge claims that there is some bipartisan consensus when it comes to the bill, which points towards the fact that changes can be made when the political world is polarized. "Silicon Valley is still the golden child of America – the actual shining city on a hill, with Detroit just a little bit behind," said Rogers. "GOP naturally wants to seize on this opportunity to build up an industry." 

Still, there are those that see the rapid pace at which autonomous cars are growing at as dangerous. And the bill, which would allow automakers and companies to test more autonomous machines (ones without steering wheels) doesn't help ease the mind of safety advocates. 

Only time will tell if the U.S. government can come together to make an autonomous future a reality. And whether that future is a few years off or a few decades away. 

via: The Verge