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Driverless Cars: Tomorrow or a More Distant Horizon? Featured

08 October 2015
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Driverless Cars

Driverless cars were once a thought of as science fiction, but Google has been hard at work on a driverless car for years. Honda and Apple have also joined the automated car business. But don't toss your keys away quite yet, automated cars are a controversial issue in many states, and few even have any active legislature that concerns driverless cars. Curious about the lowdown on this cutting edge technology? Here's the need-to-know news on automated cars:

Safety Concerns

As you might have guessed, the implications of a driverless car are many. How do you know it's safe? What if it malfunctions? Who is accountable if there is an accident? While driving in the U.S. is extremely safe, a fatal accident happens approximately every three million driving hours, autonomous cars must be even safer to become commonplace. This is difficult, as hardware in computers or mobile devices is not capable of sustained use without a freeze, dropped call, or crash. If this happened to a driverless car the consequences could be fatal.

Another difficulty in the autonomous driving game is the work of sensors. Autonomous cars must distinguish between dangerous and harmless situations constantly. If they can't distinguish these differences in traffic, they will be slamming on the breaks at every corner.

Honda's New Permit

In September 2015, Honda was granted a permit by the California Department of Motor Vehicles for testing of the company's new autonomous car. Honda is the tenth company to be awarded such a permit. Other giants of the automobile industry, such BMW, Tesla, and Nissan were granted the same permit in the past.

While it sounds as though autonomous cars may be right around the corner, teens shouldn't skip out on getting a driver's license for this car of the future. Google estimates that driverless cars won't be available for the public until 2020 at the earliest, and even then, they will be pricey, new technological curiosities. Encourage teen drivers to learn the rules of the road instead of waiting on a futuristic car that does the driving for them.

Where can they be tested?

Nevada was the first state that allow driverless cars on their roads, back in 2011. Since then Washington D.C., California, and Michigan have also allowed driverless cars on their roads. A host of other states have legislature in the works for autonomous car tests, such as Washington, Texas and New York, while some still have no legislature in progress, and others have ruled against such testing in their states.


In the six years Google has tested driverless cars in California there have been 13 accidents. Earlier this year two autonomous cars were hit within the same week. If you have doubts about autonomous cars, not one of the 13 accidents in the last six years were caused by a driverless car themselves. Instead it was human drivers who ran into the autonomous cars by mistake. Google has pushed for more transparency in its tests of driverless cars since a major shareholder asked for information concerning the accidents in question. Google also plans to give examples on how autonomous cars can prevent fatal collisions. The latest of which is a picture of a driverless car stopped at a green light as an ambulance speeds through the intersection, lights blazing.

“I’m very proud of the record of our cars. Our goal is to beat human drivers,” co-founder Sergey Brin said, according to Bloomberg Business.



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