In August 2018, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report on the status of autonomous, or driverless, vehicles.
Evaluating the crash history and research on self-driving cars, the report concluded that there is a “need for caution on the road to full driving autonomy.”
The study took place after a National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined that safety driver error played a role when an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018. It called the crash avoidable.
Considering that reducing deadly crashes and increasing mobility are among the goals of autonomous vehicles, automakers are increasing their efforts to improve the process.
To this end, “GM acquired San Francisco-based Cruise Automation in 2016,” said Jennifer Korail, corporate news analyst for General Motors Co. “A year later, we unveiled the first production-ready car with no steering wheel or pedals."
In October 2018, Cruise and GM announced a partnership with Honda Motor Co. on autonomous vehicle technology. The three will fund and develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle for Cruise slated for mass production globally.
Seattle-based Cruise recently signed a deal with DoorDash for food delivery, Korail said.
Nissan Motor Corp. is going with ProPilot Assist, its hands-on assistant, to help drivers on long highway trips and the daily stop-and-go commute.
“The ProPilot Assist system represents the first generation of advanced driver assistance features in Nissan vehicles,” said Chris Keeffe, senior manager in corporate communications.
The next generation of Nissan's technology will support steering, braking and accelerating in multilane driving in a pilot project within a year. It plans to offer ProPilot technology in 20 models in 20 markets by 2022 and sell 1 million ProPilot-equipped vehicles by then.
Keeffe added that “Nissan already has more vehicles on the road with semi-autonomous capabilities than any other automaker, and we continue to learn from this experience to bring benefits to customers.”
“Toyota is doubling-down on humans,” said Curt McAllister, Midwest public relations manager for Toyota Motor Corp. “Might sound odd for an AV project to include human interaction, but we believe it makes sense.”