The Vision Zero Strategy makes a global promise of zero road deaths and injuries by as early as 2020 in some countries. The shocking rise in traffic fatalities in the U.S. makes broader implementation critical. On October 5, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that U.S. traffic deaths had reached a crisis level in the first half of 2016.
Getting driverless cars ready for the road is happening so fast that tech companies are projecting more aggressive dates for production and implementation. On September 1, 2016, Baidu, considered the Google of China, became the newest pioneering voice to join the fray. The internet giant announced its plan to put an autonomous fleet of public shuttle vehicles on the roads by 2018. Driverless cars for personal use follow soon after. In preparation for these upcoming events, California DMV issued Baidu a license that allows them to test their automobiles on West Coast roads in the coming months.
Experts claim that self-driving cars won’t be practical for everyday use until 2050. For ride-hailing services, the projection is sooner. But weeks away? Really? Uber ready to autonomously roll Per an announcement by Uber on August 18, customers will be able to actually hail self-driving cars in Pittsburgh later this month.
While there are many catalysts to this growth—not the least of which is public demand—one of the factors requiring the further movement of government services into the digital environment has been the growth of emerging auto technologies. For quite some time, the government has partnered with the automotive industry in a regulatory capacity. However, due to these emerging auto technologies, the degree to which the government will need to both support and oversee this industry will only continue to grow. There are two primary industry shifts necessitating increased involvement from eGovernment: Modifications in the ways vehicles are powered An increase in vehicle automation While it will likely be some time before we stop using fossil fuels, the tide is turning on this front, with more makes and models running partially or even entirely on electricity. The benefits of this shift are obvious, since the effects of carbon emissions on the environment are now well documented.
One thing the unfortunate Volkswagen diesel scandal did was put ever more consumer distrust in car companies and auto software at a time when trust in upcoming partially- and fully-autonomous vehicles will be paramount. Can we really trust self-driving cars? “Trust is essential to making autonomous cars a reality,” says Navigant Research’s senior research analyst Sam Abuelsamid (@samabuelsamid), who has been researching and writing constantly the past couple years on the intersections of vehicle autonomy and cybersecurity. He says consumers are going to expect a lot before they trust cars that drive them around without any pedals or steering wheels, such as Google’s built-autonomous-from-the-ground-up little car. “Automakers need to thoroughly test all of these technologies and make them as robust as possible before any initial deployments,” he says.