Despite safety concerns, auto manufacturers such as Tesla are pressing forward with new technology for autopilot driving. Tesla’s new Autosteer technology raises its maximum speed to ninety miles per hour on freeways and five miles over the speed limit on other roads. With every step, self-driving cars come closer to reality.
A Self-driving Fatality
Even so, it’s the one-year anniversary of an accident that Tesla would rather forget. Joshua Brown suffered fatal injuries on May 7, 2016 when his Model S hit a tractor-trailer while on autopilot mode. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated the incident and found that Tesla did nothing wrong. More specifically, the report found that because the crash occurred from the side, the autopilot sensors didn’t have time to spot the hazard and react to it.
While the government might have cleared Tesla, they’re still implementing tough standards for self-driving vehicles. Tesla even admits that the purpose of automated driving is in part to reduce traffic crashes. To that end, Tesla has committed to putting self-driving software in all new models. They claim that this software can drive better than a human.
Even though Tesla is leading the pack when it comes to self-driving cars, the other car companies are close behind. Ford says it’s going to mass produce self-driving cars for use by the year 2021. Even Uber is in on the self-driving car market. They have a test service up and running in Pittsburgh. A Chinese companny, Baidu, is testing a self-driving BMW model, too.
Mark Fields is Ford’s CEO. He says that car manufacturers have to be slow and methodical when they introduce self-driving cars. This is new technology that people aren’t used to, he warns. Even one crash can set public opinion back years when it comes to adopting and embracing the technology.
Technology Meets Public Perception
Self-driving technology must be safe. From there, consumers must believe that it’s safe if it’s going to catch on. Car manufacturers are confident that they can create self-driving cars that perform far better than humans. They believe mirrors, sensors and automated programming performs better than people do. One thing is for sure, there are rapid changes coming to the automobile industry.