Self-driving cars in Japan focused on improving safety
In Suza, Japan one can see a Toyota Prius driving along the seaside rode. Equipped with a sensor, this test car is being tested for making critical traffic decisions. Its objective? Keep the aging population driving, and keep them driving in a more safe way especially in the country side where public transportation options may be limited. In Japan, Toyota has about 100 people employed in the development of autonomous cars. Autonomous vehicles are largely being developed on the premises that they are more safe than cars being driven by humans. In Japan, about a quarter of the traffic accidents is caused by drivers over 65, a percentage substantial larger than in most other developed countries.
Late 2015 Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda decided the company should move into self-driving cars, as the company’s goal had been ‘to make sure everyone can move around freely’. Toyota is the no.1 worldwide car company is sales with more than 10 million vehicles, with an estimated profit of $19 billion for 2015. Yet within the large company an anxiety arose around the company’s future, as the world in transportation has shifted a lot. Google is developing self-driving software, Uber has created a large platform basically allowing for car sharing with a driver and Tesla made electric cars a reality now many people believe in. Mr Toyoda plans on producing self-driving cars hitting the road by 2020.
Apple car expert leaving self driving car program for personal reasons
Steve Zadesky, an industry expert in electric cars, is leaving Apple for personal reasons. This can be considered a major setback for Apple’s electric car program, which, assumable, will also be an autonomous vehicle. Last year, Apple designated the initiative—code-named “Titan”— a committed project with a projected product launch foreseen for 2019. However, so far few details are know.
Testing the software of Cruise Automation, a startup developing an autopilot system, a self-driving car crashed. However it did not crash while driving by itself, rather it crashed just after the handover from the automatic system to the human driver.
This week the congress and the administration of Obama appeared united in a push to advance self-driving cars. Most federal agencies have only played an advisory role, but seem to be willing to become more pro-active and involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, would still be struggling with how to setup test programs for autonomous vehicles. So far it has been left to the States to come up with policies and laws. Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car program, was at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington last week. He demonstrated a vehicle navigating its way around a woman chasing a duck on an electric wheelchair, and made the crowds laugh.