It may sound like something out of a science-fiction movie, but self-driving cars are one step closing to becoming a reality. Google, for instance, has been working on an autonomous driving system for several years now. And after clocking 1.8 million collective miles on the odometer, it’s only been in 13 accidents, all of which were attributed to the fault of other cars.
In an effort to encourage self-driving cars, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed new legislation. One of the complaints surrounding the concept of self-driving cars is the potential for a cyber attack. Being that they are controlled by an on-board computer, conventional wisdom should tell you they are susceptible to cyber attack. While this hasn’t happened yet, it’s still a concern that some people have. This prompted the House of Representatives to approve the Self Drive Act, legislation that streamlines the production and deployment of self-driving cars on U.S. roads through regulatory processes.
So, what requirements are specified in the new Self Drive Act? Among other things, it requires self-driving cars to feature defenses to protect against hacking, unauthorized use, intrusion and false messages. Furthermore, it requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to identify elements associated with performance standards, including the use of human machine interfaces (HMIs), sensors and actuators.
However, not everyone is on board with the Self Drive Act. When speaking about the legislation, John Simpson of the Consumer Watchdog group explained that the Self Drive Act eliminates states’ ability to regulate their own safety standards. Instead, they are forced to use the standards specified in the Act.
“The main concern is that it does away with the states’ ability to have any safety standards in place,” said John Simpson, spokesman for the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. “All we’ve gotten is some loose guidance.”
Of course, self-driving cars are still in the early stages of development, so you probably won’t see any significant number of them on the roads for several years. Nonetheless, most experts agree that it’s only a matter of when, not if. There are certain benefits associated with self-driving cars, such as convenience, cost savings and improved safety. These benefits are only apparent, however, once the technology is refined. Until then, lawmakers will continue exploring ways to regulate the industry and protect passengers and other drivers on the road.
What do you think about self-driving cars?