Step by step, the development of self-driving car technology is progressing. For the time being, many people would prefer to stay away from the concept of autonomous vehicles without driver intervention. In this Proof of Brain post, I review the current challenges for self-driving cars.
1 - Legal and regulatory background
As has been the case with other technological developments, things often move faster than the legal and regulatory framework is established. This is currently the case with self-driving cars. Indeed, the general basic rules of transport state that vehicles must be driven by a driver who is responsible for the driving. From this point of view, the ball is in the court of the legislators, who will have to work out the details of the framework that will allow self-driving.
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2 - Insurance
Under the rules in most countries, all vehicles on the road must have compulsory insurance to cover damage caused by us. According to British law commissions, self-driving cars should not be the responsibility of the driver, which would instead be passed on to the manufacturers.
Time is also needed to clarify the liability issue. This is an important issue, as manufacturers are reluctant to spend millions of dollars on developments that are hampered by opposition from insurers and legislators.
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3 - Lack of industry standardisation
Tesla, Google and Apple, among others, are working on their own self-driving technology, but none of these giants has yet made any effort towards industry standardisation. It is likely to be up to lawmakers to solve the problem.
4 - Scepticism about the current justification for existence
People are currently quite sceptical about self-driving cars. For a while, there was a similar sentiment about electric vehicles, but now money is pouring into this segment at an incredible rate. Perhaps the situation of self-driving cars will change one day, but until then there is no pressure from either the decision-makers or the manufacturers to act faster.
5 - The human response works better
As self-driving technology develops step by step, there are a number of traffic situations where a human driver can react more effectively. The fact that a self-driving car saves the life of a passenger versus a pedestrian who suddenly steps off the road is a matter of serious social debate. This situation must be addressed, otherwise it will be difficult to achieve social acceptance of driverless vehicles.
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6 - Sensors are not perfect
Modern cars are equipped with a number of driver assistance systems that use sensors to warn the driver of impending danger and, if necessary, intervene. But these sensors are not perfect. In particular, such systems can be confused by adverse weather conditions, which is one of the challenges of self-driving car technology.
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7 - The learning process for cars
Self-driving cars are in a continuous learning process based on the information they are fed. This makes the system better and better, but there is no guarantee that this improvement will lead to a higher level of safety. So upgrading does not always equal improvement.
8 - Lack of social acceptance
Broad social acceptance is of course essential for the uptake of self-driving cars. The vast majority of car owners would prefer to be in control. This is due to the driving experience and the lack of safety perception associated with the self-driving system.
This suggests that further testing and development will be needed to ensure the safe uptake of self-driving cars.