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Is the City Ready for Self-Driving Cars?

Today in the New York International Auto Show opened its doors to the public. With over 1000 cars and trucks on display, a few companies addressed the elephant in the room. Self-driving cars. While Tesla Motors wasn’t presenting at the show, several other automakers displayed their vehicles.

In the Javits Center where thousands of people In one end of the hall, Volvo has an exhibit in the center of the main room. One of the features they’re showing off, the Volvo assist. The car can drive itself at speeds up to 30 miles per hour, braking and accelerating depending on traffic conditions. But it has a condition: the driver must have their hands on the wheel. Taylor Wizner has more. 


WIZNER: Jeff Rubin is a car enthusiast from Stanford, Connecticut. He commutes to Long Island every day and says he can’t wait for autonomous cars to make his commute easier.

RUBIN: It will steer by itself for up to 15 seconds. That way you don’t have to hold the steering wheel. It will stay in its lane. And it’s surreal and amazing and it’s great technology.

WIZNER: Christopher Mertz is the Principal Project Scientist at Carnegie Melon University. He says automakers are being a little cautious with adopting more autonomous features.

MERTZ: You know. You first have cruise control. Then you have adaptive cruise control and then you have super cruise. And then you know step by step by step and people get used to more autonomy and more autonomy and then they get used to it and they can do the next step.

WIZNER: He says cities, especially New York City, will need to create infrastructure before these cars can be on the road. Maps and real time information would help, as well as smarter traffic technology.

MERTZ: So like a traffic light can communicate to the everyone around and says ok I’m going to turn red in 5 seconds.

WIZNER: Mertz says there are debates over what the ethical implications of the self-driving vehicles which may have to make the choice between hitting a pedestrian, or hitting another vehicle.

MERTZ: And that’s also something which society has to decide. Like where’s the limit?

WIZMER: Mertz says all the advanced technology in the world, won’t make much difference if the City doesn’t first work out the legal problems associated with allowing self-driving cars on the streets of New York City. Taylor Wizner, Columbia Radio News.


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