Where do we Stand on Driverless Car Technology?

America will get an update on where we stand on driverless cars, following high profile setbacks in the past year, as experts gather at Texas A&M news week for the annual Transportation Technology Conference, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Christopher Poe, the assistant director of the Texas Transportation Institute, says despite incidents like the death of a pedestrian who was hit by an automated vehicle in Arizona in February, the technology is closer than you think.

"The technology for connected and automated vehicles is evolving, and a lot of people think it will be on our streets in the near future, in the two to five year time frame," Poe said.

He says the biggest misconception many people have about driverless vehicles is that they will emerge fully formed, that we will drive up to the dealership one day and see a fully autonomous vehicle sitting there ready to whisk us away.

He says the technology is emerging gradually, and developments like lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, which now now on cars, is part of that transition.

"I think you'll see a gradual roll out of this type of technology, so people will have the opportunity to get comfortable with it in limited situations," he said.

The biggest hurdle still be overcome, Poe says, is to develop technology that can actually 'think' on its own, and be able to move quickly to avoid situations like the one in Arizona, where a pedestrian suddenly emerged in the dark in front of an autonomous test vehicle.

"Vehicles will be able to drive themselves and solve problems that they encounter," he said.  "Right now drivers have to be aware and be 100% in control of the driving environment."

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