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DRIVERLESS CARS ARE NOW A REALITY IN CALIFORNIA

DRIVERLESS CARS ARE NOW A REALITY IN CALIFORNIA

Earlier this year, the California’s Department of Motor Vehicles submitted a draft bill stating that self-driving cars that had no steering wheel or pedals would need a licensed driver to use public roads. This proposal was not well received by car and technology industry and experts described the proposed rules as extremely restrictive. According to Google the requirements defeat the purpose of autonomous vehicles for groups that might benefit the most, such as disabled people.

Last week, the same Department released a revised draft in which Californian authority amended driverless car rules and allowed these innovative cars to use public roads as long as they meet a number of requirements to ensure traffic security. For instance, self-driving cars could not go faster than 35 miles per hour and they will only operate in approved areas such as business parks and controlled environment with less traffic than busy urban streets. Furthermore automakers will need to document how the car detects and avoids objects and pedestrians, how hardened it is against cyber attacks and how its backup systems would cope if the software were to fail. Driverless cars were banned in California at the first, but other States such as Florida, Nevada, Michigan, Hawaii, Washington and Tennessee have already enacted laws to use or test self-driving vehicles on public roads.

Self-Driving vehicles are provided with sensors capable of detecting objects as far as two football fields away in all directions, with electric batteries which power the vehicle, with computers designed specially for self-driving and back-up systems for steering, braking and computing among other functions. The interior is designed for riding not for driving and its rounded shape allows the car to maximize sensor field of view. It is estimated that around 94% of accidents in the United States are due to human errors. According to several industry experts, the percentage of deaths because of traffic accidents could be reduced drastically by introducing driverless cars in the day-to-day life.

Despite a variety of opinions about safety and advantage or disadvantage of driverless cars, the reality is that one of these vehicles already saved a man’s life last August by taking him to the hospital after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He started feeling that he was not able to breathe and instead of calling and ambulance, which would be slower, he set the autopilot autonomous driving function and he was drove to the closest hospital.

Driverless cars will impact our life for sure in the next few years because they make driving more efficient on all fronts. Roads would not only be safer but also traffic and fuel efficiency will greatly improve. It is believed that traffic congestion is also expected to decrease which will allow people to have more free time.

Lorena Besada Esperón is a business administration student at University of Santiago de Compostela. She is currently working on Sales & Marketing in Software-Nation and she is also member of a student organization that promotes international internships.

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