[Nfbmo] Driverless Cars Could Transform Auto Industry

Nancy Lynn freespirit at accessibleworld.org
Fri Jun 15 04:04:56 UTC 2012

Hi all, I got this from a friend, and thought I'd pass it on.  
Driverless Cars Could Transform Auto Industry
Yes, come on Michigan, pass the law.
Driverless technology could transform auto industry By Alisa Priddle
Detroit Free Press Business Writer It could be 20 years before
self-driving cars become
mainstream, but the technology could transform the auto industry and
transportation in general, speakers said at the first-ever Driverless
Car Summit in
Detroit on Tuesday.

The impact on the industry could be huge as we move towards vehicles
that drive themselves," said Gary Smyth, head of the North American
Science Labs at
General Motors. What we do in the next five to 10 years in this
industry will be critical.

There are already vehicles on the road loaded with radar, sensors and
other technology that allow them to steer, accelerate and brake based
on signals from
their surroundings.

The impact on humanity would be huge," Smyth said.

Autonomous driving addresses such global issues as urbanization,
congestion, safety, the environment and connected living, Smyth said.
It could enhance
freedom for older drivers and open new avenues for those who have never
driven before, such as the blind.

It is pretty powerful to do this," said Mark Riccobono, executive
director of the National Federation of the Blind, who made history in
January 2011 by
becoming the first legally blind person to drive. He piloted a Ford
Escape around the Daytona Speedway, a feat made possible by new
technology in the car.
For the blind population, "this is our going to the moon," Riccobono

Google has developed a fleet of self-driving cars, each decked out with
about $150,000 of equipment. Google has logged 250,000 test miles, said
tech lead
Chris Urmson.

Urmson hopes the technology is mainstreamed sooner than the 20-year
forecasts offered by some summit attendees.

I'm trying to push it ahead," he said, adding the hurdles are not
legislation or technology, but consumer acceptance.

Google has lobbied to get Nevada and California to pass laws governing
self-driving cars. Similar bills have been introduced in Florida,
Hawaii and Oklahoma.

Michigan has yet to pursue legislation, but Gov. Rick Snyder said he is
a proponent of driverless cars as the next logical step toward
efficient mobility.

I'd be happy to look at it," Snyder said at the two-day conference
organized by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems

The mandate of the summit is to lay out a foundation for driverless
cars for the next 10 years, said Michael Toscano, president of AUVSI.

Snyder offered Michigan's partnership and support. Because he must now
be chauffeured as governor, he said he has come to appreciate the
ability to use
drive time to get work done. We need to be careful of what's on the
road but other states have gone forward," Snyder told reporters after
his speech. We're
the motor state and we should be thoughtful and move forward on things
like that.

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