Ford will offer self-driving taxi rides in Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas, in partnership with car-sharing service Lyft and technology company Argo. The cars will be on the road there from the end of this year, as part of a larger project involving robot taxis in six American cities, including Washington DC, the automaker announced on Wednesday.
Although car manufacturers have already invested many billions in the development of autonomous vehicles, the self-driving car is still not a permanent part of the street scene. Since March 2018, when an Uber robot taxi killed a pedestrian during a test in Arizona, sky-high expectations have been revised.
Both Uber and Lyft, seeking to replace human drivers with cheaper computers, have abandoned their own efforts to develop autonomous technology. Argo, which is preparing an IPO, previously received financial injections from Ford (1 billion dollars) and the German Volkswagen (2.6 billion).
Argo competes with, among others, Waymo (a sister company of Google) and Cruise (which is financed by General Motors and Honda and tech investors SoftBank). Waymo and Cruise want to offer robot taxi rides in San Francisco. In busy cities it is more challenging to let the computer drive, but investments pay back faster, is the idea. But they are not yet cleared for commercial service in California.
The slow realization of robot taxis contrasts sharply with earlier predictions, including by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, that self-driving technology would be suitable for introduction in the short term.
In recent years, skepticism about fully autonomous driving cars has grown. Causes: legislators who are hesitant to adjust the traffic rules and financiers who do not support the expensive development indefinitely.
Waymo, a frontrunner in this technology, is under pressure to generate revenue and attract outside investors. Alliances seem to be the only way to sustain the capital-intensive development of self-driving cars.
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The robot taxi is far from being there, but Ford’s plan seems to give autonomous transport a serious second chance. The American automaker aims to expand by 2023 and have 1,000 robot taxis on the road in six major cities. Volkswagen plans to apply the technology in vans of its own taxi service Moia, and also to have robot taxis driving around Germany (Hamburg) from 2025.
Even though these cars maneuver through traffic on their own, there are still two people on board keeping an eye on the computer. One person to intervene if the software is about to make a mistake, the second records the data. Argo prides itself on the ability of the car to adapt to local driving conditions, which can be different in each city.
Drive more carefully
In addition to fatal accidents, minor shortcomings are also an obstacle to the breakthrough of the robot taxi. Computers are programmed to drive much more carefully than human drivers. The rest of the traffic has to get used to that. Robot cars are often hit from behind by drivers who don’t count on the car in front of them to slow down.
Also read: Driver monitoring: Pay attention, your car is watching you
Ordinary cars also have more intelligence on board to be able to drive and steer independently. Driving Assistants (ADAS, or advanced driver assistance) with braking, steering and emergency interventions, but the human driver remains responsible under almost all circumstances. There is one exception: since this year jaar Automated Lane Keeping Allowed. In addition, the car is in charge of up to 60 kilometers per hour in traffic jams, provided you drive on a two-lane road.
Traveling by robot taxi: from the end of this year it will be possible in the US
Source link Traveling by robot taxi: from the end of this year it will be possible in the US