It was only two weeks ago that a self-driving car belonging to Google crashed into the side of a bus due to judgment calls the software deemed necessary. As we reported there would be some scrutiny of the engineering behind self-driving car technology and now a robotics expert from Duke University came through for the skeptics.
Missy Cummings is the director of a robotics focused lab called the Human and Autonomy Lab at Duke University and testified to a Senate commerce committee that the self-driving technology isn't ready for deployment. Present at the hearing were executives from Google, General Motors, Delphi and Lyft, according to The Verge.
Speaking of the self-driving technology embedded into the cars that the UK want on the roads by 2017, she said: "There is no question someone is going to die in this technology. The question is when, and what can we do to minimize that."
She further went on to say, "I perceive there to be a rush to field systems that are not ready for widespread deployment. One issue is operation in bad weather including standing water on roadways, drizzling rain, sudden downpours and snow."
Chris Urmson, who defended the autonomous cars in the accident two weeks ago encouraged the Senate to start putting the federal regulations in place for the driverless cars so they can fast track getting them onto the roads, despite the scrutiny after the bus accident and accidents before them. He also urged the Senate to legalize the cars across the country instead of individual states using the technology.
Urmson told the Senate: "If every state is left to go its own way, it would be extremely impractical to operate autonomous vehicle across state boundaries."
Further queries into how vulnerable the GPS system was to hacking was brought to the Senate's attention by Cummings as well.
As a result, Urmson has said that the driverless cars have done over 1.4 million miles and have done the equivalent of 108 years on the road and that they were ready for deployment. According to TechInsider, Google's fleet of cars has only been in "17 minor accidents since 2012."