The Driverless Taxis Are Here -- This Year
They are not the future, in some cities, driverless taxis are taking riders now. Auto manufacturers are also ramping up orders and requesting Federal approvals for autonomous level four vehicle production.
Driverless taxis are already on the road in Pittsburgh, and GeekWire is covering all the details of what's happening at the facility where 200 Volvos, equipped with LIDAR cameras, drive themselves in and out. According to Uber's website, the test drives are collecting data with real passengers excited to take their self-driving selfiies:
We’re piloting a program now where you can get matched up with a self-driving Uber when you request uberX. When you do, you get a glimpse of the future AND access to the selfie machine. Mind. Blown.
But it's not just Uber, and it's not just Pittsburgh. Driverless taxis are operating in Phoenix, Arizona, and coming to Greenville County, South Carolina, and at least to the seven states that have already authorized autonomous vehicle operation.
According to the Greenville News, the Federal Highway Administration awarded the county $4 million to develop a public automated taxi system that would be the first of its kind in the nation.
These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all," Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson said.
According to ArsTechnica, Waymo, the company conducting the first U.S. public trial of self-driving cars in Phoenix, just placed an order for an overwhelming number of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The Google-spawned company suggested it is moving beyond self-driving tests in Phoenix, Michigan and Atlanta and scaling up for wider autonomous vehicle operations.
With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development, to operations and deployment," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo.
According to NBC News, General Motors (GM) plans is asking to sweep seven states with driverless taxis by 2019.
GM asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for waivers covering 16 regulations, said Kyle Vogt, the CEO of Cruise Automation, an autonomous technology company owned by GM. With Federal and state approvals, the company said it would produce 2,500 driverless Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles per year.
In addition to driverless taxis, cities like Las Vegas are testing driverless shuttles.