How Ford will create a new generation of driverless cars –

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2017

Many policymakers believe that if the human factor is taken out, then casualties will fall. Anthony Foxx, transportation secretary in the Obama administration, was a huge supporter of autonomous technology.

“Early indications are that the first few minutes of a ride in an autonomous car can be pretty scary to people who haven’t been in one before,” he said in one interview.

“But people get used to it quickly. People having real-life experiences with the technology will help in the long run. I’m sure that when the horse-and-buggy gave way to the automobile, there was probably an acceptance factor there as well.”

Last September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a list of guidelines for the industry covering everything from data protection to the sobriety of somebody taking control of the car if the technology fails.

If anything, the Trump administration will adopt a more laissez-faire approach. Elaine Chao, the new transportation secretary, was averse to regulation when she served as labour secretary under George W Bush.

That seems to be the view in Silicon Valley as well, which has welcomed the Trump administration’s choice. “The autonomous vehicle industry could not have asked for a better pick as secretary of transportation than Elaine Chao,” said Grayson Brulte, who runs an innovation consulting firm.

“She has a proven track record of light regulation and she has made positive statements about the future impact of autonomous vehicles in our society. Ultimately, autonomous forms of transportation will completely transform our society and usher in the single greatest change since the industrial revolution.”

Oliver McGee, who served as a scientific adviser to Bill Clinton’s administration, believes the technology will be central to the Trump administration’s pledge to boost the US economy.

“Capital plus technology equals growth, it is basic economics,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“This is what will be driving Donald Trump’s target for [above three per cent] growth. He needs innovation. “Autonomous vehicles will be part of a very large investment undertaken by Elaine Chao.

Her task will be to get Congress to support the $1 trillion spending over the next 10 years.”

This, of course, represents a major cultural shift for the auto industry, which for decades has sold cars on the basis that driving was something to be enjoyed, rather than handed over to a computer. There is also the basic question for all the companies whether consumers will buy into the idea.


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