Olli.jpg

The Department of Transportation has released guidelines concerning the safety of automated vehicles. Olli, a 3D printed self-driving trolley pictured above, made its debut at the International Manufacturing Show this September in Chicago. (via amtonline)

 

As with much new technology there are flaws, which must be addressed before the product is mass marketed. After the self-driving car made by Tesla fatally crashed this past May, it was clear that we were a ways away from seeing roads staffed solely by automated cars. The crash took place near Williston, Florida. What happened exactly is unclear, but we do know that the car’s sensors did not register a white trailer against the background of a bright sky, and its autopilot braking system did not engage before the collision. Tesla has said that the passenger of the vehicle with an Autopilot system must remain alert and ready to take over at any time. But that defeats the purpose of a self-driving car, which is that you can focus on other things besides driving.

 

To address these concerns and ensure a smoother process, the Department of Transportation has released a policy on self-driving cars, focusing on highly automated vehicles, which completely control driving. It’s over one hundred pages long, and is open for public comment. The policy includes a 15 point checklist concerning the functionality of the vehicle. These include the programming of the system, the privacy given the individual, how the data is used, and the crashworthiness of the vehicle-how it will behave in collisions. Further, the vehicles must be designed to comply with both state and federal laws. Each item on the checklist must be complied with before the vehicle is allowed on the market. Parts of the policy also relate to less automated vehicles, those cars which are partly controlled by a person during driving. In short, comprehensive guidelines for the design and use of automated vehicles should ensure safety while driving.

 

There are a variety of automated vehicles currently under development. Not all of them are designed to automate highway driving. One such model, “Olli”, is a trolley made from a 3D printer and showcased at the International Manufacturing Technology Show this month.

Olli moves at a leisurely pace- its maximum speed is just 25 miles per hour. Perhaps the first automated vehicles most of us will use are trolleys that transport us across museum and theme park campuses, moving at a slow, steady pace.

 

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