Self Driving Vehicles are Slow to Take Hold on the Roads

January 04, 2022, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

The dream of fully autonomous vehicles being commonplace on our roads has fizzled. Technical and legislative constraints along with friction from consumers, have resulted in the roll outs occurring very slowly. Vehicles that have ‘semi-autonomous mode’ like Tesla still require the driver to be ‘in control’ of the car. There have been several news reports of drivers spotted at the wheel asleep and accidents occurring while the cars were in in self drive mode.

According to news reports, some investors are now putting their attention and dollars towards the commercial side of autonomous driving – trucks and work machines that have far fewer restricted roadways to navigate and won’t have to contend with pedestrians or other traffic. Key areas for these vehicles include mine sites, ports, and shipping transshipment points.
Sadly, the programming for self-driving vehicles has been challenged with cyclists, pedestrians, heavy traffic, and snow and fog. Until those issues are resolved and humans are confident in the ability of the self-driving cars there will be no advancement on roadways in populated areas. Some passengers in self driving cars have also complained of lurchy driving by the software which overreacts to traffic moves around the vehicle.

Tesla owner Elon Musk had promised as recently as a couple of years ago that we would have one million robotaxis on the roads have been met unfilled. Long-haul trucking and other commercial uses seem much easier markets to conquer. The interstate highway system in America has large stretches of highway that are easy to navigate for the computer driven trucks, and private commercial sites don’t face the same level of legal restrictions that public roadways do.

Human drivers are another barrier to the current advancement of self driving cars and trucks. Experts at TE Connectivity contend that:

An autonomous vehicle would always hit the brakes if it encounters a “testosterone-laden human male,” said Ralf Klaedtke, chief technology officer at TE Connectivity, which makes sensors and electronic systems to handle masses of self-driving data for the auto industry.
“The autonomous vehicle will always be the slowest in mixed traffic,” he said.

The advancement of the long haul trucking with autonomous technology will depend on there being a human safety driver, investment, large corporate customers, legislative buy in, and further advancement in technology.
For the foreseeable future we are not likely to see self driving vehicles (passenger or commercial) in areas where there are unpredictable traffic patterns (left turns), schools, hospitals, fires stations, blind turns, or indeed anything else considered complicated driving maneuvers.


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