Seriously … What’s the Next Step for Driverless Cars?

pygmalion05 —  July 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

OK, the driverless car is maybe going to really exist at some time in the near future — and insurance companies are scrambling to get up to speed.

In fact, insurers, lawmakers and car manufacturers are all starting to maneuver, assuming that this is going to be something other than the hovering skateboard in Back to the Future II.

An interesting new post from The Esurance Blog, discusses how insurers are working to figure out whether two different policies will be needed: one for when the human is at the wheel and one for when the robot driver has taken over.

The post also discusses how many car manufacturers are now sprinting to outpace Google on the developing technology, how Nevada has licensed driverless vehicles and other states (like, oh, California!) are moving to do the same.

Watchdog Group Says We Are Google’s Product, Don’t Allow Driverless Cars Without …

Consumer Watchdog came out swinging last week, writing a letter to the California Assembly’s Transportation Committee that urged lawmakers not to allow driverless cars on the state’s roads without strong new privacy protections for consumers.

The committee held a hearing last week on new legislation aimed at green-lighting driverless cars and Consumer Watchdog urged them not to give the OK without more restrictions.

The watchdog group said that it agreed with the concept of driverless cars and what robot drivers could do for safety — but also called Internet companies out of control and claimed that Google is going to go sweep up gobs of unauthorized consumer data from its driverless vehicles.

The letter said: “Google’s entire business model is based on building digital dossiers about our personal behavior and using them to sell the most personal advertising to us. You’re not Google’s customer; you are its product – the one it sells to corporations willing to pay any price to reach you. Will the driverless technology be just about getting us from point to point or about tracking how we got there and what we did along the way?”

Read the full text of the group’s letter here (pdf).

Still ‘Getting the Technology Right’

Sill interested? Get your answers from the horse’s mouth.

Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google X (which is behind driverless cars and a lot more), took part in a recent Reddit town hall Q&A session.

When asked how long before we’re all riding around in robot-driven cars, Thrun told the forum:

“I wish I had a crystal ball. We are still focusing on getting the technology right.”

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