In September, Uber announced that it would launch testing of its self-driving cars in Dallas. Have no fears, however, that your next Uber pick-up will be driverless: the company said it would not be testing its self-driving system on the streets of Dallas. Uber is cautious, trying to avoid a repeat of the unfortunate fatal crash, caused by the human driver, of one of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona in 2008 that hit a woman walking her bike across the street. Uber stated that the Dallas tests involve data collection only. According to theverge.com, the vehicles “will be operated by human drivers in downtown Dallas to start out, collecting mapping data and capturing driving scenarios which Uber’s engineers will then reproduce in simulation.” This year, Uber unveiled its third-generation vehicle, slated to begin testing in 2020.
Steve Wozniak, supreme technology innovator and co-founder of Apple, has expressed his doubts that autonomous vehicles will appear on America’s roads in the near future. He told the audience at his keynote speech at the J.D.Power Auto Revolution conference in October that, at 69, he believes that he’s unlikely to live long enough to see self-driving cars without a backup human driver “in my lifetime.”
Experts at the conference were predicting that consumers will see forms of self-driving within about five to 15 years, with full autonomy without a backup driver is a distant goal. Some autonomy is harder to achieve than consumers may realize. Said Wozniak, “What we’ve done is mislead the public into thinking that this is going to be like a human brain, able to figure out new things, say, ‘I haven’t seen this before but I know … here’s how to handle it.’ A human can do that easily. …We’ve got to have this machine learning, artificial intelligence we call it. It’s not really intelligent.”
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