If you are in Phoenix, Arizona, be on the lookout for a fleet of driverless cars that were designed by Waymo, a project of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. It was just recently announced by John Krafcik, the Waymo CEO, that the driverless cars are a portion of the first ride-hailing autonomous service in the world.
Google has been working on a driverless car since 2009, and, since April, Waymo has given some lucky Phoenix area passengers rides. A majority of Americans are uncomfortable and uneasy about getting into driverless cars. However, these particular cars had a driver at the wheel in case one was needed. The mentioned fleet now in Phoenix does not have safety drivers.
The technology behind these cars is that they have the potential to save hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of lives in the upcoming decades. Human drivers are deadly, and over 90 percent of car crashes have been attributed to human error with motor vehicle accidents having killed an estimated 40,200 people on American roads just in the last year.
In addition, for the disabled and the elderly, driverless technology offers the opportunity to vastly improve mobility and independence. Also, parents with children busy with after-school activities can benefit from this kind of driverless service.
The life-saving potential and other benefits of driverless cars has proven to be a persuasive selling point to regulators and lawmakers, who are generally over-cautious. Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration require that companies receive pre-market approval for their products. However, auto-safety regulators tend to allow car manufacturers to get their products out to the market after only certifying that they meet safety standards. They then rely on after-market recalls if safety standards are violated or vehicles are defective. That enables automakers to get potentially life-saving innovations more quickly into the marketplace.
Driverless cars could cause regulatory fights between the federal government and the states even though the Senate and House legislation on driverless cars contains identical provisions seeking to address preemption concerns.