Ever since Google announced that its fleet of unmanned Toyota Prius hybrids drove more than 200,000 miles around California, interest in driverless cars and the impact they could have on society has been at an all-time high. The me¬dia is enamored with the technologies and the companies pursuing them, robot enthusiasts have embraced the idea, and drivers everywhere have pondered the " />

Issue: Apr 2012


Driverless Cars in 2022… Making the Vision a Reality



by Esther Francis




Ever since Google announced that its fleet of unmanned Toyota Prius hybrids drove more than 200,000 miles around California, interest in driverless cars and the impact they could have on society has been at an all-time high. The me¬dia is enamored with the technologies and the companies pursuing them, robot enthusiasts have embraced the idea, and drivers everywhere have pondered the implications of losing the day-to-day hassles of traffic jams and road rage. 

Driverless cars have the potential to revolutionize transportation by saving billions of dollars, reducing stress, conserving energy and improving the quality of life for people around the world. Someday soon, commuters will read their tablets, surf the Internet, respond to e-mail, sleep or shop, while traveling to work in their private vehicles. The statistics surrounding driving and traffic in the United States alone are staggering. Each year more than 30,000 people lose their lives in car accidents.
 
The cost of crashes to the U.S. economy averages US$230 billion, more than four million adults drink and drive, and 4.2 billion hours are lost in traffic - which equates to roughly one work week for every traveler. Given these statistics, the case for driverless cars is strong, and from a technological perspective, they are a viable solution today. Driverless cars are already on our roadways in some areas, but they are operated under strict supervision and guidelines. 

While there are still technological advancements that need to be made, the real challenges for driverless cars are not improved sensors or software. Cultural acceptance, legality, privacy and policy are all as important for the vision of driverless cars to become a reality. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the world’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics communities, is working to ensure that driverless cars become a practical mode of transportation by 2022. The association will host its inaugural Driverless Car Summit, from 12-13 June 2012, at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. This unique event will be dedicated to understanding the core challenges impacting driverless vehicle integration onto tomorrow’s roadways. 

The Driverless Car Summit is designed to address these challenges in an interactive environment that fosters attendee involvement and participation. With a mix of speakers, panel sessions and motivating talks, the event will focus on inspiring the automotive and robotics communities, as well as educating attendees on the emerging issues confronting automated transportation. 

Key summit topics include: 
• Making the business case for driverless cars
• Insuring the vehicles of the future
• Understanding the legal issues
• Selling the driverless car and influencing car culture
• Addressing the policies and regulations impacting automated transportation. 

The Driverless Car Summit is the first step in achieving the next transportation revolution. Please join us at the MotorCity Casino Hotel 12-13 June 2012, and be a part of making driverless cars a reality. 

For more information on the Driverless Car Summit, visit http://www.auvsi.org/dcs

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Lindsay Voss, senior program development manager at AUVSI, what are some of the major issues regarding driverless cars that will be raised at the Driverless Car Summit?
Voss:
The major issue that tends to come to mind when talking about driverless cars is technology. While this year’s summit will cover advances in technology from companies such as Google and TORC Robotics, technology development is not the primary focus of the event. A diverse range of topics will be covered, including how driverless cars will be insured, and who will be at fault in the event of an accident, how States around the U.S. are working to integrate driverless technologies on their highways for testing and evaluation, and how the auto industry and companies working with driverless cars intend to influence a car buying culture that has been obsessed with driving for more than a century. 

AI: Which are some of the organizations that will be participating in the Driverless Car Summit?
Voss:
Attendees will be a mixture of industry representatives from the automotive and robotics communities, as well as decision makers from government. The program agenda features an outstanding line-up of speakers from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Google, State Farm, Stanford Law, General Motors, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, TORC Robotics, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, the U.S. Department of Transportation and many more. All program sessions will be interactive, offering attendees the opportunity to ask questions, voice their opinions and take an active role in the summit outcome. 

AI: The goal of driverless cars by 2022 is ambitious. How do you see the Driverless Car Summit helping to achieve the 2022 target?
Voss:
Integrating driverless cars in 10 years is a daunting challenge, but the rewards that will be reaped by communities around the world in terms of the lives saved are great. This June, we will bring together key stakeholders from industry, government and academia who are crucial to the future of driverless car development and integration efforts to learn about the key issues, discuss the way forward for the community and get excited about the future of transportation. 

As we work to make driverless cars more mainstream, communication and information will be critical. The Driverless Car Summit will be a forum dedicated to learning about and understanding the issues that will be crucial for us to solve as we work toward our goal of making driverless cars a viable means of transportation by 2022. 



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