Whenever I see a Tesla on the road I feel like Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Not because I want my very own fancy Model S – perse.

It’s because I want to see self-driving cars everywhere, and I want everyone using them NOW.

A still image of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with text overlayed that says "I want it now!"

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Let’s take a look at exactly how long I’ll have to wait before I get my golden ticket to ride in fully autonomous cars.

 

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Big Names Double Down on AV

 

Autonomous Vehicles (AV) have been all over the headlines recently, and some of the press is really promising for AV enthusiasts (like myself). Here are a few of the updates I’m most excited about:

 

Seeing these heavy hitters team up even has investors at Goldman Sachs projecting the AV market to be north of $95 billion by 2025.

But all the great technology in the world doesn’t mean diddly if governments are not on board to regulate and support this push.

 

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Uncle Sam Takes A Ride on The AV Side (Sorta)

 

It seems government officials can agree on absolutely nothing these days, except for self-driving cars. So far, the federal government has mostly just provided guidance, letting state and local governments handle policy on their own. Essentially, they want to sit back and see how the technology develops.

A map of the USA with colored hexagons that indicate which states are enacting legislation for AV

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So far, 29 states have enacted legislation related to AV – take a look above to see if your state is included.

The US race to AV seriously relies on whether car manufacturers can make affordable AVs without outside help. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk claimed earlier this month that no other country (besides China) can deliver defect-free parts on such a short timescale.

This means the US and China need to play nice when it comes to trade – something that doesn’t look promising at the moment.

 

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So Where Is AV At Now?

The US Department of Transportation outlines the road to full automation with this nifty infographic.

 

A diagram that outlines the automation levels as outlined by the NHTSA

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USDOT also reports that self-driving is mostly a future technology and anticipates fully automated safety features and highway autopilot to be available by 2025+.

Kind of a bummer.

But the good news is that level five and level six cars are already on the road, albeit they are only found in small testing environments. Here is a nice graph that outlines which vehicles/companies drove the most miles in California without human operators intervening.

 

A chart that stack ranks the companies that have the most number of reported test miles per disengagement in California in 2018

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But like is this even safe, bro?

This testing, as many have heard, is fraught with serious difficulties, including the recent fatal incident in Arizona. But the future still looks bright for AV, especially when you consider more than 37,000 people died from motor vehicle deaths in 2017.

For all the skeptics out there, here’s a clear-cut list of the different AV benefits that even our old fashioned government believes in.

  • AV will save lives by eliminating the human errors that cause over 94% of serious crashes.
  • AV could erase nearly $800 billion in US economic losses from car crashes.
  • AV can siginificantyly cut down on the 7 billion hours we spend in traffic delays.
  • AV may provide new employment opportunities for 2 million people with disabilities.

So, now is the time to hop on board the AV bandwagon – toot toot!


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