Robot cars: expect them on the roads in 5 years
If you thought that the reality of robot cars was still pretty far off into the future, you might be in for a surprise. U.S. automakers are rushing to make them a reality, partly because we are in a technology race with Asian and European markets. Insurance Networking News reports that 10 U.S. sites have been designated as proving grounds by the Department of Transportation, and the intent is to accelerate and validate the technology.
"Automakers will share the facilities and data to accelerate the arrival of autonomous cars, the regulator said. The race is on to put robot cars on the road, with Tesla Motors Inc., BMW AG, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Volvo Cars each pledging production of fully autonomous cars within five years. Alphabet Inc. spun off its Google Self-Driving Car Project, renamed it Waymo, and unveiled a driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivan earlier this month."
And in related news, one of the topics that we've focused on lately has been Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the effects it will have on the way we work and the things we insure. We were most interested to see a recent article from MIT's Technology Review: Robot Cars Can Learn to Drive without Leaving the Garage, which shows that AI is one of the ways that driverless cars are progressing quickly. The article discusses how playing video games and surfing Google Street View can teach software a lot about driving. It notes:
"New approaches to training self-driving cars may help democratize the technology, and make it more reliable. Self-driving cars were everywhere at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the technology is front at center at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, which started this week. But not everyone has the resources of Ford, Google, or Uber, and automated vehicles still struggle in many situations (see “What to Know Before You Get in a Self-Driving Car”). So some researchers are coming up with creative ways to gather the data and train driving systems. There are even efforts to open source the technology required for automated driving."
In an article you may have missed at the start of the year, Insurance Journal talked about progress in the autonomous car arena: Driverless Cars Mapping Route from Labs to Driveways. It’s a good overview that discusses how specific initiatives are progressing, along with discussions of safety improvements, acclimating customers, and what’s been happening on the regulatory front.This is clearly an issue to watch.