Self-driving cars are on the way; by some projections autonomous capability could even be standard by 2030. As drivers, cars will behave differently than humans, and they will almost surely be programmed to avoid hitting people. The idea that roads will become safer, with fewer traffic accidents, is a driving force behind the new technology. But, as pedestrians quickly figure out the cars' behavior, they will certainly adapt theirs as well. The effects could be dramatic: instead of more consistent, traffic flow could become chaotic, according to "Pedestrians, Autonomous Vehicles, and Cities," published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research.
Volvo Car Corp. and ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. have signed a 300 million agreement to co-develop autonomous sport-utility vehicles that will either be used as self-driving taxis or sold to consumers. The two companies will announce the joint project Thursday, saying the Swedish auto maker will conduct much of the initial engineering on a platform for an XC90 SUV that is capable of piloting itself. At some point, Uber will take that technology and use it as the foundation to develop its own self-driving vehicle technology. Volvo will do the same. Under the agreement, Uber will buy XC90 SUVs manufactured by Volvo.
We've already heard about Google's somewhat controversial autonomous vehicle test program which began two years ago using Toyota Prii and other vehicles. It appears now that yet another hybrid has been added to the driverless vehicle list. Said hybrid is a cousin to the Prius, the Lexus RX450h, and it was reportedly spotted traveling along a Southern California Freeway with the autonomous testing gear mounted atop its roof. The sighting comes just days after the California Senate passed Bill 1298, which enables the California Highway Patrol to set standards and performance requirements relating to autonomous vehicle testing. The picture also indicates the testing apparatus has been somewhat modified since earlier tests.
The US Department of Transportation has released its latest set of voluntary guidelines for automated driving systems, a report that builds on previous versions released over the past two years. With Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0, the DOT outlines additional safety principles, updates policy and offers guidance to state and local governments. "The integration of automation across our transportation system has the potential to increase productivity and facilitate freight movement," said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao. "But most importantly, automation has the potential to impact safety significantly -- by reducing crashes caused by human error, including crashes involving impaired or distracted drivers, and saving lives. The report notes that it's meant to be an update to, but not a replacement of, last year's guidance, and it encourages those developing automated driving systems to make public their Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments, which were introduced in last year's report.