Autonomous vehicles have been in the news quite a bit lately as one that Uber was testing recently struck and killed a pedestrian in AZ putting a temporary halt to their program. Details of that story are still coming out as the latest report show the safety driver looking away from the road for about 5 solid seconds before striking the woman (which was preceded by about another 4 seconds of looking away). In the footage released from the accident, she was looking away from the road for roughly 9 of the 12 seconds on display.
While that news was unfolding, the US Government was putting together their spending bill and one part that was not mentioned much was $100 million dollars that will be invested in autonomous vehicle research.
Out of that $100 million, the spending breakdown is as follows:
- $60 million will go “to fund demonstration projects that test the feasibility and safety” of these vehicles
- $38 million to U.S. agencies to conduct research into self-driving cars, including cyber-security issues
- $1.5 million to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the impact of self-driving vehicles on U.S. employment
- $500,000 not listed in the report. I assume it will go to the bank account of someone who wrote the spending bill (sarcasm, slightly)
I understand that people are going to wonder why our tax dollars are going to private industries that are sure to take jobs away from millions of people, and it’s hard to blame you. Companies like Uber should be the people spending the money to demonstrate the “feasibility of safety” of these vehicles. I’d rather most of the money go into researching the cyber-security aspect and the potential impact on the economy, but I’m not making the decisions.
These companies are almost certain to put the cyber-security aspect on a lower priority as that slows development and delays these cars making money for them, but in the wake of recent news of Russia being able to hack into our power grid, cyber-security should be one of the top issues if we’re going to be putting millions of driverless cars on the road. These cars open another door that could leave us paralyzed if our enemies are able to hack into the system, so hopefully, this is 100% secure before they’re released on a mass scale.
A mere $1.5 million will go to the research of how these cars will impact the economy, but I guess that makes sense considering I could tell you how it’s going to impact the economy for free. It’s going to put millions of people out of work. Case closed.
People who drive these cars are obviously going to be hit the hardest, but let’s not forget that this will impact places like auto body shops, insurance companies, and a lesser scale even auto repair shops. The more of these cars get on the road and our cars off the road, the less likely the chances of accidents, stolen cars, and preventable costly repairs due to routine maintenance being performed regularly.