Uber, Lyft, Google, Volvo, Ford form self-driving car
Volvo and Ford are teaming with Google and ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft to advance the interests of self-driving cars.
On Tuesday the companies announced the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a group that aims to push the development of self-driving vehicles among lawmakers, regulators, civic groups, businesses and local governments. The group’s spokesman is David Strickland, chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2010 to 2014.
The coalition plans to work with policymakers to facilitate the deployment of self-driving cars, Strickland said in a statement, including creating “one clear set of federal standards” for autonomous vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that last year there were 33,000 fatalities on U.S. roads. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people 15 to 29 years old, and an estimated 94 percent of road accidents are caused by human error. The Transportation Department believes self-driving vehicles could help to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of crashes.
“Self-driving technology will enhance public safety and mobility for the elderly and disabled, reduce traffic congestion, improve environmental quality, and advance transportation efficiency,” the coalition said in a statement.
Are American’s Ready For Self Driving Cars?
Nearly 46 percent of U.S. drivers surveyed in April said their preferred level of automoation is “no self-driving,” according to a survey from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Another 38.7 percent said they prefer “some” self-driving, while 15.5 percent said the are ready for “completely” self-driving vehicles.
The poll, which surveyed 618 licensed drivers in the U.S., also found that 94.5 percent of respondents said they’d prefer it if self-driving cars have a steering wheel, as well as gas and break pedals.
Any new technology is sure to hit some bumps in the road, so it’s understandable consumers would be skittish about it. Even so, automakers and technology companies alike are confident self-driving technology will deployed in just a matter of years. BMW, for instance, wants to have its first fully driverless vehicle on the roads within five years. Jim McBride, technical leader in Ford’s autonomous vehicles team, similarly told ZDNet recently that the technology should be widely available in four or five years.
Meanwhile, government regulations could address some of the concerns consumers have. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to release a set of policy guidelines for self-driving cars in July that should address questions of safety and issues like whether or not steering wheels should be required.