Autonomous Cars Need Driver’s Licenses, Too

Over the past couple of weeks, Tesla has made headlines for its autopilot software, which allows the company’s Model S sedan drive itself under certain conditions.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.thecarconnection.com

Over the past couple of weeks, Tesla has made headlines for its autopilot software, which allows the company’s Model S sedan drive itself under certain conditions.  While fans and futurists have hailed this as the arrival of the fully autonomous car, some reports from owners suggest that the technology is far from perfect. (That’s why Tesla says that even in autopilot mode, drivers should keep their hands on the steering wheel.)  By coincidence, late last week, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute published a new report entitled “Should We Require Licensing Tests and Graduated Licensing for Self-Driving Vehicles?” In it, they discuss some of the practical and regulatory matters involved in making autonomous cars road-ready. To do so, they look at the driving skills that autonomous vehicles need to master. Could a graduated licensing system, like the one that human drivers undergo, be applied to autonomous cars?  While Sivak and Schoettle acknowledge the importance of GDL programs for young motorists, they say that the same process doesn’t always make sense for self-driving vehicles. For example, while some GDL programs prevent novices from driving at night, the same approach doesn’t work for autonomous cars:  “For self-driving vehicles, experience with daytime driving does not improve nighttime performance. Instead, good nighttime performance requires everything that good daytime performance does, plus sensors that provide the necessary information even at low levels of illumination. Thus, the GDL approach would not be appropriate here either.”

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