Self-Driving Car Gets Trial on Northern Virginia’s I-95
If self-driving cars one day become the norm on the roads of America, Virginia may prove to be a milestone on the route to the future.
Last month the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute tested its automated vehicle technology on I-95 in northern Virginia.
The institute used the I-95 Express Lanes, on the congested I-95 corridor that connects the busy suburbs of northern Virginia to Washington DC.
Associated Press reported that the trial of driverless technology was the first on a real highway, although it was carefully controlled and the car was not, in fact, driverless.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s trial took place at noon when the Express Lanes were almost empty of other traffic. The real test would be during the morning and evening rush hours.
AP reported that the test used a specially modified Cadillac SRX and there was a driver in the car. Virginia law requires that every car has a driver. While technology has advanced rapidly, a driver is still seen as necessary to take over the controls if something goes wrong.
That’s not to negate the extent of automation. The self-driving car was able to make its own changes and its speed adjusted to take account of factors such as construction zones and simulated traffic.
AP reported that Virginia Sen. Mark Warner was a passenger in the car. He admitted he felt a brief “moment of terror” at the sudden changes, but was confident about the concept and described it as the next great technology.
Self-driving cars have come a long way in a short time, although liability questions remain.
Recently, BMW, and Tesla announced they have already released, or will soon release, self-driving features that will give automobiles some ability to drive themselves.
As well as traditional automakers, tech companies are trying to build self-driving cars. Recently, Google revealed it will be testing a prototype of its driverless car in California.
Human errors cause most crashes at present. While self-driving cars would reduce this problem, liability laws would likely need to change to prevent the advances in this technology from coming to a screaming halt. The liability regime would likely shift from driver error to product liability. Manufacturers of automated cars would be sued over accidents caused by defects.
In the wake of the Virginia experiment, David Taylor, an electronics technician with VTTI, said the test went well. On one occasion, during a lane shift, the car over-shifted slightly, moving to the far right side of the right hand lane. The driver had to grab the wheel and take control at this point. Otherwise, it went according to plan.
Self-driving cars have traveled a long way in a short time. However, there is a still a rocky road ahead for the technology. If you have been hurt in a car accident, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.