Uber has quit testing AVs, but there have been at least 100 "confusion" accidents.
Also, there are problems with LIDAR, the rapid-fire light detection sensors that map a vehicle’s surroundings. LIDAR falters in heavy rain and snow. In California, LIDAR can't detect the little plastic bumps that are used to divide lanes. LIDAR's CEO says, “We’re not yet able to handle diverse conditions.”
Meanwhile, Google tested 600 of its cars in 25 cities and ran computer simulations for 7 billion miles of driving in Silicon Valley. In the Phoenix area with its wide flat roads, Google is giving free rides to 400 households.
AVs can be used in Washington, D.C. only if there's a safety driver and a secondary engineer.
In Texas, AVs are being used on closed roads, and transporting people between parking lots and sports stadiums.
The manufacturers promote the fact that AVs are safer than human-operated cars--they're operated by computers that don't drive drunk, or distract themselves by texting, or succumb to road rage.
Fact: In the U.S, there were about 40,000 traffic-related deaths in 2017. Researchers say 94% car accidents are caused by human error; and most Americans don't feel safe riding in an AV without a driver. Most people wonder about ethical problems such as, "Should a car whose brakes fail crash into five people in a crosswalk or veer off the road and hit one person on the sidewalk instead? Should the car stop short for an animal in the road, even if doing so would endanger humans in that vehicle and in other cars?
A group of MIT researchers say, “Before we allow our cars to make ethical decisions, we need to have a global conversation to express our preferences to the companies that will design moral algorithms.” These researchers remind us that car insurance needs to be entirely reworked and traffic laws will also require an overhaul. They mention that AVs may create pollution woes, and hacking (cyber security dangers) may be a problem.
So, will AV's be on our roads by 2030? Wise people say YES. Wise people say NO. Perhaps we're feeling what folks felt back in 1893 or thereabouts when they saw this.
I can't say or think BOO about confused computers, unfixed problems, when millions of people, more every year, and millions of dollars, every year more, are deeply involved and committed to updating how we travel.
Guys, brace yourself--I am saying the words out loud to myself, loud enough for you to hear--it's progress. It's happening. It's too late to say anything but a big HURRAY YAY, and go with time marching on.