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Consumer Group Warns About Autonomous Driving Hype

11 January 2016

While the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was filled with news regarding the next big thing in automotive technology—autonomous driving—non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is warning that the technology is not ready for mainstream deployment. Calling them “robot cars” that put a “glitzy spin” on the emerging technology, the group warns that self-driving cars are “not remotely ready for deployment on public highways without a steering wheel and pedals so a human driver can intervene when necessary,” says John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director.

While OEMs and technology companies appear to be emphasizing safety, the group urges that they continue to debate approaches that target safety and not cave to corporate pressure. The group cites recent regulations drafted by California about testing self-driving cars on the state’s highways and requiring a driver behind the steering wheel in order to take control if needed. Consumer Watchdog also cited the example of the DMV last month drafting regulations for general use of self-driving vehicles on the state’s roads that will also require a driver behind the wheel capable of taking control.

These regulations were seen as a step back for Google that called the DMV and California regulations “disappointing.” However, Consumer Watchdog says it encourages the DMV to continue to put public safety first and not give in to corporate or political pressure.

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