First Quarter 2016 – Autonomous Car News

Both technology and automotive companies from around the world are racing to stake their claim in the evolving self-driving car marketplace. From General Motors and Ford to Apple, Google and countless others, the speed at which this new wrinkle in personal transportation is moving suggests that in the American marketplace we will begin to see offerings for sale as early as the 2018 model year. I have pulled together a few news tidbits for your information and education regarding the self-driving car.

Automatic Emergency Braking to be standard in 2022 – Twenty automakers that make up some 99 percent of the new vehicles for sale in the American marketplace have voluntarily committed to making Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) standard equipment on all new cars and light trucks by September 1, 2022, AEB systems typically warn a driver if they anticipate a potential collision with a vehicle sensed ahead and, if no evasive braking or steering action is taken by the driver, will automatically apply the brakes to prevent a crash or to reduce its severity. This means at speeds between 25-35 miles an hour, an AEB equipped vehicle has the ability to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. AEB systems use sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect vehicles ahead. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the industry group the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have challenged the automakers to offer such technology in recent years.
NHTSA estimates that this voluntary action by the automakers will result in the technology being available some three years EARLIER than if they had mandated it via government regulation. In reality, AEB systems will start appearing in vehicles even earlier than the agreed to time. Currently some 3.5 percent of vehicles produced in North America CURRENTLY are already equipped with AEB. It should also be noted that AEB is one of the KEY components of a fully autonomous car.

Baidu toTest Drive Autonomous Cars in the United States – Chinese search giant Baidu is the latest tech company to announce its driverless car technology intentions. The company currently has a growing office of 160 in Sunnyvale, California with a stated goal of introducing a commercial viable model by 2018. The tech company’s aim is to roll out self-driving shuttles running a standard loop in a limited area in China by the end of 2018. A well-trod route would limit the potential for the unexpected to occur. The routes would be expanded gradually as the systems learned. Baidu is using modified BMW 3-Series sedans for its tests. Baidu hasn’t decided whether its first autonomous vehicle will have a steering wheel. Currently, autonomous vehicles are legal in four American states – Michigan, California, Florida and Nevada – as well as the District of Columbia.

General Motors to Launch Self-Driving Cars via Ridesharing Service – General Motors (GM) plans to deploy a network of self-driving cars within the Lyft ride-sharing service in the next couple of years. In the beginning however, the automaker has decided to have human drivers at the wheel. The automaker says that it needs to collect data on the process and make sure the systems are operating as they expect them to before actually start deploying the vehicles without drivers. GM says its aim to be first to introduce self-driving cars and that its new business partner Lyft would be the broadest, most cost effective way to bring self-driving car technology to the masses. Volvo, Infiniti and Nissan have previously announced intentions to introduce this technology in their cars beginning with the 2020 model year.

AAA Survey Reveals Most Drivers Feel Unsafe in a Self-Driving Car – A recent AAA survey found that 75 percent of the 1,800 drivers surveyed said they wouldn’t feel safe in an autonomous vehicle. Ironically enough, some 60 percent of respondents of the same survey said they wanted their next car to have some kind of autonomous feature like self-parking or automatic brakes. According to AAA managing director of automotive engineering and repair John Nielsen, he thinks many drivers feel that way because they are unfamiliar with the technology. However he says “People who have these [autonomous] features tend to like and trust them. That will go a long way for them to start accepting the self-driving technology.”

Ken Chester, Jr. is President & CEO of Motor News Media Corporation – an automotive news service founded in 1989 as The AutoBuyer Plus Corporation. Featured on numerous television and radio programs, viewers, listeners and readers alike relate to Ken's friendly manner and wealth of information about the many vehicles currently for sale in today's complex automotive marketplace.

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