Autonomous Vehicles Not Safe Enough for Roads yet Experts Warn

Published: April 12, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The backlash against autonomous vehicles is gathering pace as experts continue to be divided over whether the self-driving vehicles are ready for our roads or not. The technology has been long touted as the answer to spiraling accident rates, but the closer driverless cars get to being launched, the more worry is about their viability.

A group of public safety and engineering experts have told the United States government that there are still technological advancements that need to be made before autonomous vehicles are safe. It is a juxtaposition against companies building self-driving vehicles (Google thinks its cars should launch without steering wheels).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is being urged to tread more carefully into launching autonomous vehicles for consumers. There is a plan in place that could see the first vehicles hit the market this year, and even if not the general consensus is that self-driving vehicles will become available in 2017.

Paul Scullion, safety manager for the Association of Global Automakers, cautioned against rushing into a self-driving market. Speaking at a public meeting hosted by NHTSA, Scullion said that regulations alone for these vehicles will be a slow process.

“While this process is often time-consuming, these procedural safeguards are in place for valid reasons,” Scullion said. Working outside that process might allow the government to respond more quickly to rapidly changing technology, but that approach would likely come at the expense of thoroughness, he said.

There seems to be no argument that self-driving vehicles could change the way in which we live our lives, and more importantly, most agree that the technology will save lives. Accident rates are expected to tumble over the next 30 years as autonomous vehicles become more popular, while ride-sharing initiatives will means less vehicles on the roads.

With this change, the auto insurance industry will be transformed and insurance companies will need to adapt their products and how they offer coverage. Automakers will also change the ways in which they sell vehicles, with more consumers sharing cars and not buying individual vehicles.