This is How Self-Driving Cars Are Being Tested
Autonomous driving vehicles were first allowed to be tested on public roads in California in September 2014. These self-driving tests were only permitted if there was a safety driver in the autonomous vehicle during the time of testing, to ensure that someone could take control of the vehicle in case there were any issues or system malfunctions. Since 2015, many self-driving car projects have been doing their test driving in the United States, predominantly within the states of Arizona and California.
In Arizona, there are less regulations to test self-driving cars in comparison to the number of regulations in California. If you are testing a self-driving vehicle in California, you are required to get a permit and to publicly share all your software disengagements. Currently in Arizona, there are more than 600 cars being tested on public roads and it has become evident that self-driving technologies are starting to favour deploying their self-driving car testing in Arizona.
Moving to April 2018, California announced that they will allow for self-driving cars to be fully autonomous, without the need for any safety drivers to be inside the vehicle during testing time. We know that there’s a race between various software companies (Google and Apple) and car manufacturing giants (General Motors, Volvo and Lexus), but it’s important to also highlight the race between California and Arizona in becoming tech’s most favourable hotspot to test self-driving technology.
With 10-million daily users, Uber has become the most popular way to get around town for its ability to provide a friendly user-interface for riders and drivers. More recently, Uber has shifted gear and have moved their focus towards replacing human drivers with their autonomous cars. Based in San Francisco, Uber had self-driving cars being tested on public roads long before many of the other current autonomous driving projects. Unsatisfied with the amount of self-driving car regulations in California, Uber moved all of their self-driving tests to Arizona.
Currently, Uber’s self-driving taxis have someone monitoring the driver’s seat, but this is just to serve as a safety precaution in case something unanticipated occurs. Uber is currently testing their autonomous robotaxis by driving riders around Phoenix.
Waymo is Google’s autonomous vehicle developer and testing for Waymo self-driving cars is currently taking place in Arizona. In late 2017, Waymo began testing their autonomous minivans in Arizona without needing to employ any safety drivers.
The governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, issued an executive order that has allowed for autonomous cars to operate on public roads in Arizona, without the need for any safety drivers. Manufacturers need to ensure that their self-driving cars can adhere to all existing traffic laws. It has been reported that Waymo is planning to commence their ride-sharing project in the very near future.
Tesla vehicles are fitted with an Autopilot system that will automatically control your Tesla vehicle to match current traffic speed conditions, safely stay within a lane, or change between lanes. Currently, Tesla requires that operators are on-hand to monitor the vehicle during the times that the Autopilot setting has been engaged. This is similar to how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that pilots need to monitor aircraft whilst they are set to autopilot.
In Tesla failing to reach their initial goal of an autonomous coast-to-coast drive, and with the company drastically falling behind in their production output, Tesla still has a long way to go to develop a fully autonomous driving system. In a recent shareholders letter, Tesla highlighted that they are still planning to conduct a coast-to-coast drive to “showcase a major leap” for their self-driving technology.
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