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U of M forum examines impact and challenges of driver-less cars

Many challenges loom around the corner as the prospect for driver-less cars moves closer to reality.

A forum on Friday at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School will look at ways drivers, policy makers, regional planners, industry leaders, and lawyers should prepare for their arrival on roads and highways in the next decade.

Organizers say the self-driving vehicles can be considered:

“a ‘disruptive technology’ with the ability to transform transportation infrastructure, expand access, and deliver benefits to a variety of users. However, there are many obstacles to overcome to make this technology viable, widely available, and permissible.”

Issue to be considered at the conference include:

  • Industry and design perspectives
  • Civil liability and insurance
  • Criminal liability
  • Regional and city planning perspectives
  • Ethics, equity, and access

Speakers include:

  • Karlyn Stanley, senior researcher, RAND Corporation 
  • Richard Bishop, automation expert, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems
  • Bryan Walker Smith, law professor, University of South Carolina 
  • Scott Dibble, Minnesota state senator
  • Edward Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health
  • Dorothy Glancy, law professor, Santa Clara University
  • David Levinson, professor, University of Minnesota
  • Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State

The conference is intended for lawyers, policymakers, industry members, urban and regional planners, transportation specialists, insurance professionals, STEM educators, media, faculty, students, and members of the public.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by E Gamauf on 10/31/2014 - 07:13 am.

    Sensor Inspections & Sensor Stops

    Transitioning from current technology cars & to George Jetson’s Flying Trabant
    is going to take awhile, though its here already.

    Don’t we have intrusions now – in the form of texting, phones & in-dash touch screens?

    No more marathon cross-country drives in our future:
    There are insurance companies that now have on-board sensors to be sure you don’t ever dare speed, even in accident avoidance – in exchange for a small reduction in rates, the “black box” truckers have had for nearly 20 years & report on the consecutive hours the vehicle is driven.

    Won’t just be busted tail lights:
    Cops going to need a different skill set to check if sensors are properly maintained.

    Hey, we can get away with owning just one of these – because you can be dropped off at work & the self-driving car can go pick up the kids after school.

    On the plus side:
    Texting laws can ease up, as the car drives itself,
    and driver attention will barely require them to remain conscious at all!

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 11/03/2014 - 08:08 am.

    Car Technology

    What we’re more likely to see is elements of the self driving car implemented piece-meal over time rather than wholesale in one complete package. Most articles on self driving cars go on about how wonderful they are and skip over some very large technical hurdles that have yet to be worked out. For examples:

    -The cars can’t navigate in rain or snow as the precipitation confuses them.
    -Someone has to code in each and every sign and stoplight, a very labor intensive operation for even a modest sized town.
    -If a new stoplight is added, the car doesn’t know about it till the database is updated. It doesn’t know how to look for a light on its own.
    -A ball rolling out into a street is not a warning signal to the car. A human would realize it may be followed by a child and adjust its speed accordingly.
    -It can’t avoid potholes, an important consideration here in the Nordland.

    The Google car has racked up an impressive amount of accident-free miles. What they don’t tell you is that the vast majority are the same few miles near Google’s headquarters in California. These are the few miles of road that Google has well mapped. Get them outside of that grid and the car can’t make it through the streets.

    I would love love LOVE to have a self driving car, but like the Jetson’s flying car, I think the technology for this is always just around the corner. Sorry about the pun.

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