A few years ago, self-driving cars were essentially science fiction. However, they're a real concept now--and they're already on the roads. Driverless car technology is advancing at a rapid pace, which means most of us have probably missed a few key developments if we haven't been keeping up lately. Check out these four facts to help bring your driverless car knowledge back up to speed:
1. Pittsburgh is key to developing driverless technology.
If you live in Pennsylvania, you are likely familiar with Uber--a ride-sharing service that is helping to pave the way for driverless technology. Unless you're from Pittsburgh, however, you might not realize the city is integral to the development of the company's driverless car technology. In fact, Uber has been testing its driverless cars on the streets of Pittsburgh for over a year now and has clocked up one million autonomous miles and 30,000 car trips since the launch.
In 2017, Ford Motor Co. announced that it was investing $1 billion over the next five years in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh company that specializes in artificial intelligence--all for the purpose of engineering and testing autonomous vehicles.
2. Driverless cars have a hard time in snow, too.
Winter weather is problematic for the suite of cameras and sensors that driverless cars use to perceive the world around them. Autonomous cars rely heavily on a spinning laser, called Lidar, that tracks the objects around the car using laser pings. When snow is falling, the laser can confuse snowflakes with solid objects. Given that snow falls with some regularity in many parts of the country--including right here in Pennsylvania--that's a big problem. Although no company has quite yet claimed their cars have mastered the ability to drive through snowy conditions, automakers think they have a solution in sight as technology continues to evolve.
3. There has already been a fatality. There is much speculation surrounding how safe autonomous vehicles are and will be, and whether humans will fully trust them. Automakers insist automated cars will be far safer than human-operated ones, cutting crashes by 90%. Human error is the main cause of accidents, with driver error responsible for three-quarters of these. Sadly, however, at least one human has been killed in an autonomous car.
4. It is believed that driverless cars will hit the market between 2020 and 2025.
While some feel driverless cars are decades away, the reality is they're nearly here. Elon Musk thinks we'll get there by 2021, adding that Tesla would have the technology by this year, with expectations for government approval by 2021. Ford's CEO said he plans on deploying self-driving cars by then and Toyota says it expects to field them by 2021 as well.
As Pittsburgh's car accident attorneys, we want to see our entire community stay safe on the roads, and we're hopeful this new technology can ultimately help prevent car accidents. If you or someone you care about has been injured as the result of a car accident, the team at Dugan & Associates is here for you, and we're ready to look at your case. Contact us for a consultation.