Self Driving Cars

Mia Noel

The General Motors Company (GM) has made an announcement stating that they plan to have their new self drivingImage result for gm cars out on the roads by the year 2019 (which some people believe to be a little ambitious), and to have introduced 20 new electric vehicles by 2023 . GM has also announced that these cars will have no pedals or steering wheel and they will be 100% run by a computer system. These self driving cars are made at the Orion Township Factory in Lake Orion, Michigan, and GM is currently testing their prototype cars in San Francisco, California and Phoenix, Arizona. GM President Dan Ammann said, “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls. We believe this technology will change the world, and we’re doing everything we can to get it out there at scale as fast as we can.” If these cars come out when GM is predicting, then they will be the first completely self driving car to be available to the public.

GM is petitioning the National Traffic and Safety Administration to permit exceptions to them, so their cars will no longer have to include pedals and a steering wheel. Other examples of rules that they are petitioning are to put a passenger airbag in front of the “driver” seat instead of using a wheel airbag, because there will be no wheel and also the rule that states that a car must have a licensed human driver. Manufacturers have stated that they can get around these rules by petitioning NHTSA for exemptions, as long as they show that the exempted vehicle will at least be as safe as a conventional car. However, the current law limits the number of exempted vehicles at 2,500 vehicles per manufacturer for every year which could be a problem for GM when it comes time to mass produce these types of cars. Even if GM’s petition is approved they would still need permission from the state to run these test drives, and only seven states (Nevada, California, Florida, Michigan, Hawaii, Washington, and Tennessee) in the US have said that they will allow cars to be tested without a driver.

Each self driving car will contain two data recorders. Together they will keep a completely digital record of all the input received from the car’s sensors, receiving information about the car’s acceleration, braking, steering actions, and any malfunctions that could occur. Both of the recorders were built to withstand any accident. GM has bought the company Cruise Automatons, the self driving start-up company in San Francisco, and they also bought the company Strobe, which is also a self driving startup company that uses Lidar technology. Lidar technology is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a pulsed laser light, and measures the reflected pulses with a sensor. GM also plans to introduce new features that will provide aid for people who are handicapped. Some examples of these features includes automatically opening doors and accommodations for people who are hearing and visually disabled. Kyle Vogt, the chief executive officer of Cruise Automaton, said that “the self-driving Bolt has redundant systems built-in to back up the driving systems. If there’s a problem, the car will slow down, pull over to the roadside and stop”.

GM has two problems they are facing currently. One is that GM has had someImage result for google self driving car competition when it comes to self driving cars, although these other companies are not as far along as GM is. Waymo and Google have both tested self driving cars before in a more rural setting then GM. Last year Waymo started a hailing service with self driving cars in Phoenix, Arizona, and by November they had tested their self driving cars in 20 different cities. Google has started a ride hailing service, although the cars they used have a wheel and pedals in the car. Ford has not predicted them having these types of cars until 2021. GM has found it to be more challenging to test in San Francisco than in Phoenix because there are more possible vehicle Image result for waymo self driving carinteractions in the urban setting than the rural setting. GM’s self driving cars had about 22 accidents last year in California, as stated by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. However, the company blames all these accidents on the fact that they’re testing in such a dense urban place and that the GM cars were not at fault for the accidents. The second problem is that the public is afraid of the new product. GM has been advised by Elaine Chao, the US Secretary of Transportation, to educate the public about the new technology they are in the process of making. Ms. Chao cited polling that shows 78 percent of Americans are afraid to ride in a driverless car and later commented that “it’s really incumbent on the manufacturers and the high-tech industry to assuage those concerns”. Elaine has advised these companies that in order for their product to be successful they need to convince people that there is nothing to fear from their products.

Where GM is going to place these self driving vehicles and when they plan to do so has yet to be announced, and which they are refusing to reveal.These GM cars are going to be the 4th generation of driverless cars being tested on the roads. “GM’s Cruise AV is equipped with the automaker’s fourth-generation self-driving software and hardware, including 21 radars, 16 cameras and five lidars – sensing devices that use laser light to help autonomous cars ‘see’ nearby objects and obstacles”, said Daily Mail. These cars will be the first self driving vehicles in commercial passenger service and among the first to do away with manual controls for steering, brakes, and throttle.