Driverless cars are here. But they’re not being operated like every other car on the road.
Issuance of Licenses
California, Nevada, Florida, and the District of Columbia have provided licenses to driverless cars to be tested on their roads. Each state has defined regulations, but it does lead to future legislation for the average driver. And for revisions of current laws.
For instance: is someone in an autonomous vehicle liable in an accident? What driving test has to be taken for something you’re only a passenger in?
Google is at the forefront of the autonomous auto. It has previously equipped cars such as the Prius with software that enables auto-driving. It’s been reported that the company is in the process of designing and manufacturing its own automobile.
Hopefully there’ll be more news revealed at November’s Connected Car Expo, a new conference exploring automobile technology. Held in conjunction with the LA Auto Show, CCE will occur November 19-21.
Issues of License
Californians are particularly concerned with data collected from the computers of the vehicles. The Internet of Things brings about issues around the safety of connectivity. Cars can already adjust speed and brake by detecting other cars on the road. They can self-park. Someone a thousand miles away can access vehicle functions and know you were in an accident. Who else beyond the “driver” can the car communicate with?
Cars will also communicate with each other.
But as Jack Curtis points out in his On the Road to Driverless Cars, what does an autonomous car do when there’s a “1993 Toyota Previa with no built-in street smarts” on the road?
Homeland aired an episode in which a pacemaker was hacked to murder the Vice President. The reality is that this is a real threat. Security experts warn that the lack of security can lead to anonymous mass murder. We’ve been seeing cars mechanically controlled for years. As the array of car functions that a car’s computer systems control increase so does the ability to be hacked.
As shown in several demonstrations for Forbes, Car and Driver, and O’Reilly, cars are readily hackable.
Driverless cars was named as one of the Five Tech Trends to Watch by the Consumer Electronics Association in their annual report, released at the CEA’s Industry Forum in Los Angeles October 21.
For safety’s sake, it might be fair to watch the road yet to be travelled.