In just a handful of years, autonomous car technology has taken amazing strides forward. In particular, the highly visible Google self-driving car effort has garnered loads of media attention for its impressive and fast-evolving technology. In fact, Google is reasonably confident that its autonomous technology can be brought to the marketplace in the next three to five years.

Whether or not the marketplace is in any shape to accept a self-driving car in that timespan is a much trickier question.

A new report by Bloomberg examines the relationship between autonomous tech and the regulations that must certainly come along with it before these kinds of auto-piloted cars show up in a dealership near you. Google maintains that self-driving cars can be made to "drive safer than people do," saving lives in the process. Meanwhile, regulating bodies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have to figure out how the cars will be road-tested for safety and where new standards will be set. How a vehicle's software is able to react to fluid and random driving scenarios, for example, will need to be somehow be tested to meet a high standard of performance.

Reaction from the insurance industry is likely to slow down the arrival of autonomous cars, as well, says Bloomberg. While, as a whole, the insurance companies have claimed to be in favor of self-driving's accident-prevention possibilities, the reality of liability claims muddy the waters. Some insurance experts predict that these issues could cause it to be as long as 15 or 20 years before the way is clear for self-driving cars in the US – decades, in other words, behind the pace of the technology itself.

Check out the full Bloomberg story, with a lot more detail around this complex issue, here.


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  • 143 Comments
      Vimala Nowlis
      • 1 Year Ago
      Probably safer than some drivers who are on the phone or otherwise busy doing anythiing except paying attention to driving.
      guesswho2756
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow self driving cars, NYS will never get their money for tickets then.
      Dan Halen
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think many people are missing how this technology will be implemented. It will arrive and function like the autopilot on an airplane. People will still be required to monitor the cars driving just like we have cruise control and auto parking now.
        underdoneone
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dan Halen
        Uh huh
        Hazdaz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dan Halen
        Pilots are heavily trained professionals. Drivers - especially US drivers - are most definitely not. You give them a car that is proclaimed to be "self-driving" and there is no way most of those people are really going to be paying attention to the road. They barely pay attention when they themselves are directly controlling the vehicle, so why would they pay attention when 95% of the time they would just be sitting there and only that last 5% of the time might they have to react? Also lets not try to use that whole "pilot and auto-pilot" analogy too much because planes don't fly within inches of each other and in packs of dozens, or even hundreds of them together. A car accident can happen in literally a fraction of a second - a plane is typically hundreds of yards, if not miles away, from another one.
      hmadden
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fine. As long as the software/hardware manufacturer is made totally responsible for any and all accidents the vehicle is involved in.
      Kevin Gregerson
      • 1 Year Ago
      I\'d rather see this technology on Cross country and city Busses first before I see it hit cars. This way the busses become predictable and mass transit becomes more adoptable. If we could make the technology in such a way that if it could safely speed to catch up to time and send out signals to lights on the network to change up the timing so that the busses stay on time. More commuters would be likely to use mass transit than cars if it was predictable and comfortable.
      _I_I_II_I_I_
      • 1 Year Ago
      We've already welcomed self-parking cars. What's gonna happen next is your car will self-park a block or two away in a cheap, compact/efficient spot after dropping you at the door of your destination. When you are ready to leave, you'll do the electronic equivalent of whistling for it and it will come pick you up, then you'll drive. THEN it's a short step to letting the car stay in control a little longer. I give it ten years.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @_I_I_II_I_I_
        I would say 10-15 years as well, for fully autonomous cars. We already have self parking, and highway accident avoidance (car cutting you off on the highway will actuate the brakes and pull the steering wheel if safe to do so). The next step will be highway automation, combining cruise control and lane keeping, with collision avoidance and alerting the driver when manual control is needed. This will allow drivers to not have to keep their eyes on the road for long trips. Fatigue cause many highway accidents. Drivers can read, and may be allowed to sleep eventually. Also, as you said, auto-valet will be a quick step since it can be done at low speed.
      dsherline
      • 1 Year Ago
      Self driving cars? That'll be a major contribution to the dumbing of the population. Anyone seen the movie "Idiocracy"? We're already on the way.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dsherline
        would be true... if driving a motor vehicle were some sort of validation of intelligence. We give out licenses to 16 year olds who barely have any sense. It requires less hand eye coordination than most modern video games. Oh... and not to mention, the human race has only been driving cars for about 100 years.
      Donny Hoover
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'd love to be able to take a nap on the way to work, maybe even shower and cook breakfast. It would also allow people to live farther from work with a less inconvenient commute. The transition will probably be rough though, and I don't see it happening any time soon. For one thing, that technology needs to be near flawless first. With the way that idiots sue in this country, the creator of such a car would be bankrupt the instant their cars start crashing. This is complicated by the possibility of a human driver colliding with an autonomous car, and then the vast array of potential legal messes to result. I have no doubt these cars can be safer than ones with humans behind the wheel but mixing the two just seems like a bad idea.
      bk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Type your comment here Robocalypse
      brennemanbelkin
      • 1 Year Ago
      As often as GPS drives vacationers off a cliff, this may be an idea who's time hasn't come.
      BEN
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is Google going to bear the responsibility if any accidents happens because of the system? Or are they going to blame the driver for not monitoring the system?
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BEN
        If it can be proven that the programming was at fault and that a reasonable human would have been able to avoid the accident.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          what accident has Google CAUSED exactly??? When did Google (and the automaker) say that they are unwilling to accept responsibility if/when the system fails? They just claimed it is safer than humans... they did not claim perfection. Just like you put words in my mouth, you are putting the same words in Google's mouth. There are millions of human cause accidents, and there is a LOT of room to be much safer than humans.... without claiming to be perfect.
          BEN
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Joevioco, and yet people like you preaches Google's word like this system will elimination accidents. I am not a hater, just realistic.
          mrpinto
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ben, humans are pretty terrible drivers. Look around you during rush hour some time and think to yourself if it's really THAT crazy that a computer could do better.
          BEN
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          the system's not even on the market yet and there are apologists for it already. Seriously if Google says that it's safer than human driver, what makes you think that humans can make better judgments than the system? Maybe auto piloting your car off the cliff is the sensible thing to do.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          ha... your putting words in my mouth. I would never say eliminate. Only that an auto-car's error rates would be lower than human error... by a very high margin. So high, that eventually human driving would be seen as unnecessarily risky.
          BEN
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          "Americans will begin to campaign heavily against the LARGEST NON-MEDICAL KILLER of Americans" You know what you said. If you think human drivers are the largest non-medical killer, then why do you think we should induce human error into this awesome system? I don't have a problem with the system Google said this system is only for convenience (much like cruise control). For Google to come out and say how this system is safer than human driver, and not take FULL responsibility for all the accidents it causes is simple... false advertising.
      franctootall
      • 1 Year Ago
      That should free up alchol and drug use. No more DUI's.
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