Recent announcements were made that Google was putting its vehicular self-driving technology research and development under a new company name and moving it to the Alphabet holding company. This new company is called Waymo and one of the first questions to come out of this transition was whether or not Waymo would continue with the partnership that had been created with FCA to create self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans for the future. The answer is in and it’s a positive one with Waymo creating the minivans that will drive themselves and will be put on the roads by the end of 2017.
Several months ago Tesla unveiled the Summon feature for some of their vehicles and it seems this feature is about to be taken even farther. The Summon feature is one in which an owner can use a remote key fob and have the vehicle open the garage door, move itself into the driveway and be turned on with the climate controls running to give the owner the ability to enjoy heading out the front door to a warmed up or cooled down vehicle. This feature is so unique that another company is working to bring this along with other technologies to the Nashville area.
Technological advancements and new discoveries are part of what has made this country great for many decades as well as over the past few centuries. What would it be like if early explorers didn’t pave the Oregon Trail or head north and south to find out what was on the other side of a mountain or river? Could our country have stopped at the Mississippi River, would we have had only the original thirteen colonies? It’s hard to say, but the discovery of new areas of the country spurned the advancement of new technologies and discoveries of what we can use to make our lives easier.
Nearly every state allows the testing of some autonomous vehicles on their road provided these vehicles are equipped with human controls that can easily take over when the car begins to perform in a manner that’s not in accordance with the laws and rules of the road. This allows companies to collect data and know how often the human driver has to take over, but if the vision of most companies for autonomous driving is to offer vehicles that don’t need human controls to allow for the corrections needed, they have to be able to test their vehicles without human drivers.
Ford CEO Mark Fields recently announced the goal of Ford to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road as part of a ride sharing program by 2021. This is one of the most aggressive marks set yet but Ford is confident they will be able to reach this goal. In an emotionally exuberant press conference, part of which is shared in the video below, Fields says that by 2021 we will have Ford vehicles with no steering wheel, no pedals and no need for a driver to take over the controls of the vehicle.
The first American death in a Tesla Model S while using the Autopilot system occurred recently and has many wondering if the system or the driver were at fault. The victim in the crash was Joshua D. Brown, a forty year old technology company owner from Canton, Ohio who loved his Model S enough to post videos of himself behind the wheel of the car with the car in Autopilot mode. His death occurred on May 7th in Willison, Florida when the camera system was unable to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer with the bright sky, failing to engage the brakes, causing Brown to collide with the trailer and become the first fatal victim of this system.