The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee recently held a hearing to discuss the readiness of U.S. roads and drivers for automated vehicles. The response from robotics experts was optimistic, but qualified. Missy Cummings, engineering professor and human-factors expert at Duke University, argues that self-driving cars are not ready for widespread deployment.
In an interview with Autonews.com, Cummings argues that the technology of automated vehicles is even more difficult that the sort of automated aviation used by drones, and that current drivers are far less trained than pilots. She suggests a more segmented approach to automated traffic that would allow drivers to adapt to changes gradually, before manual control is removed from the equation.
She suggests that the automotive industry should take steps to improve handling confusing situations in the safest way possible, whether they occur in a slow-moving 4 way stop, or at 65mph on the highway.
She predicts that safety regulations and certifications will be a large step in ensuring the safety of automated vehicles, and Duke University is currently conducting tests on how driverless cars and pedestrians interact. While Cummings is certain that automated vehicles lie in our future, she suggests that we take all precautions in arriving at that future at a safe, reasoned pace.