Driverless Cars and the Weather

I’m very curious to see how weather plays a role in how soon driverless cars will become publicly available. As we all know, driving a car on a beautiful sunny day is very different than driving through fog or on icy roads. The decisions humans have to make in bad weather include “is it safe enough outside to drive?” and “should I pull over because visibility or traction has gotten so bad?” Humans probably do make pretty good decisions because they know they are liable and, frankly, they are putting their own lives in their hands.

How will this decision-making change with driverless cars? First of all, it will be interesting to see how the technology developers design the vehicles to address inclement weather.  This article describes how Ford is testing its driverless cars in snow and this article describes how Google is using different technologies to better understand the weather and how the car should be responding.

Second of all, it will also be interesting to see if and how the government gets involved in regulating if and where driverless cars can travel in inclement weather. Should the government declare roadways unfit for driving? They don’t now, so is there any reason to change that?  Would people make poor decisions and take greater risks to use their driverless car in bad weather if, for example, the liability didn’t fall on them? Or if they could send out their car and not be inside it?  This will be an important issue for both the government and the insurance industry to grapple with.

Please check out my company’s article on my Driving Towards Driverless Guide and my Ted Talk (which won’t be available for another month or so).

About Lauren Isaac

Lauren Isaac is the Director of Business Initiatives for the North American operation of EasyMile. Easymile provides electric, driverless shuttles that are designed to cover short distances in multi-use environments. Prior to working at EasyMile, Lauren worked at WSP where she was involved in various projects involving advanced technologies that can improve mobility in cities. Lauren wrote a guide titled “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies” regarding how local and regional governments should respond to autonomous vehicles in the short, medium, and long term. In addition, Lauren maintains the blog, “Driving Towards Driverless”, and has presented on this topic at more than 75 industry conferences. She recently did a TEDx Talk, and has been published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune among other publications.
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