Ex-Google Employees Are Taking Self-Driving Technology One Step Farther

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Ex-Google employee Anthony Levandowski, helped in the development of Google’s self-driving technology and has now co-founded a new company ready to think big about autonomous vehicles. Otto, a San Francisco startup co-founded by Levandowski and two other ex-Google employees, Lior Ron and Don Burnette, and robotics expert, Claire Delaunay, are looking at the potential self-driving technology can have for semi-trucks. This is not the first time we’ve heard about autonomous big-rigs, in October of 2015 driver-less trucks were tested on the autobahn in Germany and the test was an incredible success. However, Otto is taking a unique approach to this concept and it could mean big things for the trucking industry.

Otto wants to equip trucks with the software, sensors, lasers, and cameras that are needed to create a self-driving vehicle. The host of technology that creates the autonomous truck will handle the highway driving and the human driver will be there for city driving and to take over in case of a system failure.

The self-driving trucks that took to the autobahn were designed and developed with autonomous driving in mind. However, Otto is calling for 1,000 truckers to volunteer to have the self-driving kits installed on their rigs at no cost to them. They want to see how these drivers utilize the technology and to fine-tune any issues that can only be found through real-world use. Drivers will still be expected to take control if the technology fails or driving conditions become dangerous.

This could become an incredible service as self-driving technology continues to mature. There are tens of thousands of big-rigs on the road, and many drivers won’t give up their legacy truck for a new self-driving big-rig the second they become available. Instead of forcing truckers to purchase an entirely new semi-truck, having the option to outfit the truck they’re already using with the technology could drive much more business.

“Our goal is to make trucks drive as humanly as possible, but with the reliability of machines,” Levandowski said. nyp.st/1qqKA95

Steven Shladover, program manager for mobility at the University of California’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, expressed that it would likely be decades before robots completely replace human drivers. He said “I don’t want to be on that highway when there is nobody there to take over a truck with 80,000 pounds of cargo and I don’t think I know anyone else who would want to be, – The consequences of any kind of failure in any component would be too severe.” nyp.st/1qqKA95

This statement may be true as the technology is essentially still in its infancy, but as it continues to evolve, redundancies and fail-safes could make robot drivers more reliable than adding a human element. Today, most semi-truck accidents are caused by human error, either by distractions or fatigue, two issues a robot doesn’t have to worry about. This can even be seen in Google’s self-driving car tests, no major or fatal injuries have been caused by the Google self-driving car. However, while Google has not have any issues with the self driving cars, there are those who have been in accidents with self driving vehicles, so if you find that you have been in such an accident with a self driving or a human driven truck you might want to look into someone like this Gainesville truck accident injury attorney to help you with your case.

Self-driving technology is quickly gaining momentum, not only in the auto industry, but in the public’s eyes as well. People are constantly connected and communicating which means a lot of distracted drivers on the road. Even though many people are still unsettled by the thought of a robot driving a car, the alternative – being a distracted driver with 80,000 pounds of cargo is still a far scarier situation. We’ve been keeping a close eye on the development of autonomous driving technology, especially within the cargo transportation industry, so check back soon for the latest updates.

Sources:

http://nypost.com/2016/05/17/driverless-big-rigs-are-going-to-take-over-americas-highways/

http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/17/11686912/otto-self-driving-semi-truck-startup

https://www.wired.com/2016/05/otto-retrofit-autonomous-self-driving-trucks/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3258829/Driverless-truck-tested-German-autobahn-time-using-radar-cameras-stop-crashing-motorists.html