Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Tue September 20 2016

US Government Embraces Self-Driving Automotive Future

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | September 20, 2016

US Government Embraces Self-Driving Automotive Future

Photo courtesy Flickr

One day you will slip into your car and sit back as the vehicle does all the driving.

Until you have that kind of remarkable experience, some rules will have to be set to ensure safety and uniformity across this nation’s evolving infrastructure, and a big step toward just that happened this past Monday. 

The U.S. government officials laid out various guidelines for self-driving technology that is set to take over the country’s series of roadways.

The technology, as farfetched as it may seem, is nearly a foregone conclusion amid developing automotive innovations. And the government is simply preparing itself and, in a way, nurturing the tech’s development.

The New York Times reports on this week’s development in the world of autonomous vehicles, which now includes what many see as a government seal of approval. The report states: “Over all, the government’s endorsement will speed up the rollout of autonomous cars, experts said, potentially within the next five years.”

In the realm of travel such a development has remarkable potential. Imagine the business traveler, weary from his constant life on the road, sliding into an autonomous vehicle at his or her next leg and allowing the car to finagle the road to the hotel.

Or, consider, the family road trip wherein mom or dad can be a wee bit more attentive to the crew in the car and less so on the road ahead.

Of course, you will still need to keep an eye on the road but a more hands-off experience instantly transforms the mundane practice of driving into something akin to riding the countryside on a rail, free from the constraints of mind-numbing driving.

First, well before we get to this utopia, rules must be laid down to ensure automakers are crafting vehicles that comply with uniform regulations across the board, and, as the Times reports, that is what is starting to be laid out as of this week.

The publication quotes director of the National Economic Council Jeffrey Zients who states, “We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting.”

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To get there, the Department of Transportation outlined what are 15-point safety standards for “the design and development of autonomous vehicles.”

The standard set of regulations are like a nice set of standards that officials are hoping ride that Goldilocks line of being just rigid enough to ensure safety but loose enough to spark innovation from automakers and tech companies.

The Times writes that the guidelines are wide ranging and dive into things like, “how driverless cars should react if their technology fails, what measures to put in place to preserve passenger privacy, and how occupants will be protected in crashes.”

Self-driving cars now seem far less like some fringe innovation that is destined to take up space next to those concept cars we see annually at car shows. Instead, it seems like tech that is soon to be a part of our everyday lives like smartphones and travel apps.


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