GOOGLE'S DRIVERLESS CAR SYSTEMS could be considered as drivers under US federal law if a letter sent to the firm's self-driving car boss is to be believed.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Google’s Chris Urmson that Google's self-driving system will be seen as drivers on US highways, potentially foreshadowing the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its demand for equal rights, and culminating in all-out war.
"NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants,” NHTSA’s chief counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh said in a letter to Urmson.
"We agree with Google that its [autonomous car] will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers for more than 100 years."
The NHTSA said it would look at drawing up a set of rules that address these changes, but it will take a bucket load of time to do so, leaving Google to muddle its way through existing rules for the time being.
But the NHTSA’s acknowledgment of the need for new road rules for driverless cars is positive, and could accelerate the testing and development of driverless cars from Google and major carmakers.
So while we’re waiting for driverless cars to become mainstream, car driving AIs are going up in the world and potentially becoming more human if Jaguar Land Rover has its way.
In other robo-car news, Bloomberg reported that snowflakes blind the sensors that feed autonomous systems with road data. This stops them reading the road ahead, which is a bit of a problem for driving AIs.
This happened in Sweden when autonomous system testing saw Volvo’s driverless XC90 SUV borked by snow. To be fair to Volvo’s AI driver, we’d get a bit confused in a whiteout as well.
We also feel sorry for Volvo’s clever cars, as while Google’s driverless cars are cruising down sun-soaked Californian highways, poor old Volvo AIs are being tested in tiny hamlets north of the Arctic Circle, and are probably left to huddle under a snow drift with pistons chattering and a sad look in their headlamps. µ
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