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Germany Proposes Laws for Driverless Cars

Germany’s Transport Minister recently proposed a law to govern the performance of autonomous vehicles. The proposed law would require that a car always opt for property damage over personal injury; that it not distinguish between humans based on categories such as age or race; and that a car’s manufacturer be liable for any collision if a person does not have hands on the steering wheel.
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A New Way to Buy Car Insurance?

A car insurance startup has recently acquired an insurance company with licenses in 50 states. Metromile, which has received funding from investors such as Mark Cuban, charges for car insurance based on miles driven. (A hardware “dongle” tracks how many miles the subscriber drives.) The company also charges a monthly fee that is set based on factors such as location and years driving. Although the company began offering insurance in late 2012, it will now be able to handle underwriting and claims management...
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NHTSA Releases Driverless Car Guidelines

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its highly anticipated guidelines on the regulation of autonomous vehicles.  The Federal Automated Vehicles Policy signals NHTSA’s continued support of driverless technology development by promising manufacturers expedited responses to requests for legal interpretations and exemptions.  The Policy also confirms that NHTSA will leave the regulation of licensure, operation and insurance of vehicles to states, despite calls from some automakers for the federal government’s greater involvement.  A voluntary 15-point...
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Congressional Republicans Urge Auto Safety Regulators To Step Up Cybersecurity Efforts

In a recent letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, four Republican members of Congress outlined their concerns regarding vehicle hacking, in which a hacker could take control of a vehicle’s steering or brakes. The letter was responding in part to research published in Wired magazine, where the researchers were able to hack into the car’s on-board diagnostics port and cause it to drive erratically. The lawmakers expressed concern over a growing risk to driver safety. Although the NHTSA did not respond immediately to the letter, the agency is expected to...
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Pittsburgh To Be Testing Ground for Uber’s Driverless Cars

As part of what has been called “green light governing,” a hands-off approach to regulating businesses that gives companies plenty of free rein to experiment, Pittsburgh has become a key testing ground for driverless cars. Uber is a key example: Uber is anticipated to roll out a fleet of driverless cars in Pittsburgh any day now. Any Uber customer in Pittsburgh will be able to hail a driverless vehicle–though there will be a “human monitor” behind the wheel. The city has taken few steps to prepare for the experiment, but Uber’s driverless vehicles have...
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Volvo and Autoliv Team Up on Driverless Car Software

Volvo and auto safety group Autoliv have announced a new joint venture to develop driverless vehicle software.  The joint venture is expected to develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driver (AD) systems for use in Volvos.  Volvo also recently announced a $300 million collaboration to build autonomous vehicles with...
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New Legal Risks Posed by Automated Driving

Vehicle technology is advancing at a rapid, seemingly implausible pace, with fully autonomous driving the ultimate goal. Although fully automated driving is still years away, significant advancements in automated technology are here today. This new technology is quickly advancing, outpacing current laws and regulations. These advancements expose significant gaps in our traditional legal framework and challenge lawmakers, regulators and the courts. One area of particular note is the increased risk of vehicle cyber-attacks given the sophisticated data connections and sensors in this new...
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Michigan Senate Committee Approves Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

Michigan may soon pass a law that would allow autonomous vehicles on Michigan roads for any reason.  A set of four bills regulating autonomous vehicles received has passed committee, and may move to the Senate for a vote in the next week. Several states permit driver less cars on the road for testing purposes only.  The bill also creates a council within the Michigan Department of Transportation to recommend policy on autonomous vehicles.
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Driverless Taxis Coming to Singapore?

NuTonomy, a company in Singapore, began testing a taxi-hailing service using self-driving vehicles this week.  Certain members of the public can use a smartphone app to hail an autonomous vehicle (with a computer engineer and a backup human driver) within a small business district in Singapore.  These are the first public road tests of autonomous vehicles, although other companies such as Uber also expect to soon begin trials of driverless...
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Honolulu Regulates Ride-Sharing

A new law in Honolulu will require taxi drivers and drivers for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to obtain a certificate, hold a Hawaii driver’s license, and pass background checks in order to operate. The City Council passed the bill earlier this month, and the mayor recently returned it without a signature, which allowed the bill to become law. The new regulations will take effect in January, but the mayor raised concerns that this timing would not give the city sufficient time to develop and complete administrative rules. The mayor also raised concerns that the bill creates an...
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FORD ANNOUNCES COMMERCIAL ROLLOUT OF DRIVERLESS CARS BY 2021

Ford recently announced plans to mass produce driverless cars for commercial operation in ride-hailing services by 2021. Ford further stated that these new vehicles will  vary significantly from vehicles on the road today by omitting steering wheels, gas pedals and brake pedals. As part of its plan, Ford said that it would expand the company’s research center in Palo Alto, California, increasing the 130 employees who work there by 100 percent over the next year. Ford also announced the acquisition of Saips, an Israeli start-up that specializes in computer vision, a key technology for...
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Road Trip with a Tesla – Day 5: With the Finish Line in Sight

“3:52PM  Lincoln Tunnel, New York City.   Not a lot more to be said…”   Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his experiences on the road with autonomous technology with Up to Speed readers in a series of posts.
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Rethinking the Term “Autopilot” in the Wake of Chinese Crash

A recent car crash in Beijing has caused Tesla to reconsider the use of the word “autopilot” for its Model S sedan. The driver, who had activated the autopilot feature at the time of the crash, complained that the company had  misled them about its capabilities. Following this complaint, the company removed references to the phrase “zidong jiashi,” or “self-driving,” from its website and replaced those references with a phrase that translates to “self-assisted driving.” Tesla’s China staff have also undergone training to ensure that salespersons keep both hands on the...
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Road Trip with a Tesla – Day 4: The Charging Process

2:40 P.M., Terre Haute Indiana. Here are a couple of photos to illustrate the charging process. Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his experiences on the road with autonomous technology with Up to Speed readers in a series of...
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