Intel, California Want to Be Players in the Autonomous Car Races

Add Intel to the list of companies working on self-driving cars. It just spent $15.3 billion purchasing Mobileye, a manufacturer of sensors used in autonomous cars. Intel’s CEO says he expects to have a complete hardware package ready for auto makers in 2024. Considering Ford’s promise to have fully autonomous cars on the road by 2021, that might be late, or it might just be more realistic.

Meanwhile, after much criticism from the industry, California has revised its proposed rules for self-driving cars. The original rules did not provide any possibility for testing of cars that did not allow a human override. This led Google and other companies to migrate their testing operations to Texas and other friendlier states.

Most states still don’t have any laws providing for self-driving cars, but because the people who wrote those laws never conceived of the possibility, most states also don’t outlaw them. Arizona, for example, has no law, and the governor “welcomes them with open arms.”

However, most states, including Arizona, require that a driver be at the wheel of a car, which is interpreted to mean someone ready to take over if the computer encounters something it can’t handle. The problem with that is that many autonomous car experts worry that it will be difficult to safely transition from computer-driven to human-driven, especially in an emergency situation, so they want to skip that stage and just have completely self-driving cars. Such cars can’t be tested in Arizona or other states that require a human at the controls. People hoped that California’s law would provide for such testing, so they were disappointed when the original rules failed to do so.

The list of companies working on some aspect of self-driving cars is now quite long. Automakers include BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes, Nissan, Tesla, a somewhat reluctant Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, and no doubt several others. Smaller automakers such as Fiat-Chrysler and Subaru may rely on software from Apple or Google, computer hardware from Intel and Nvidia, and other auto parts from Bosch, Continental, and Delta, all of which have autonomous research programs.

Lyft (working with General Motors) and Uber have their own programs. Then there are companies that want to retrofit late-model cars to make them autonomous. No doubt there are many more, including several Chinese companies. This is turning into a real Nascar race, which can only be good for consumers and highway safety.

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4 thoughts on “Intel, California Want to Be Players in the Autonomous Car Races

  1. Sandy Teal

    I am not scared of self-driving cars, but during experimental stages any experimental car should have in the car a senior engineer or executive of the company, and one of their kids or spouses. If they are sure it is safe for the public than they should be sure it is safe for their kids and spouses to be in the car too. I think that is a pretty good self-enforcing measure for public safety. If they will send their kids in the back seat of a car that can’t be overriden by humans, then I am OK with them driving on the road with me.

  2. paul

    Audi, I assume as part of Volkswagen, is also working on self driving cars. They expect that self driving cars will be used to sleep on trips overnight with interiors that change shape to accommodate different uses such as sleeping. Use Google search terms “audi self driving car hotel” or:
    https://futurism.com/will-driverless-cars-put-hotel-airline-industry-danger/

    Eventually if self driving cars prove safer than human driven ones then their speed limit may be raised.
    Audi has one capable of 220 kph (137 mph).
    https://www.dezeen.com/2015/11/25/self-driving-driverless-cars-disrupt-airline-hotel-industries-sleeping-interview-audi-senior-strategist-sven-schuwirth/

  3. C. P. Zilliacus

    I have no problems with self-drive motor vehicles, though I like to drive my pickup truck (Diesel engine, manual transmission and clutch), which will not lend itself ever to being a self-driver.

    But if self-drive cars can reduce the deaths and injuries on our highways from human error (especially drunk, drugged and impaired driving), then what do we have to loose as a society?

    The Antiplanner wrote:
    However, most states, including Arizona, require that a driver be at the wheel of a car, which is interpreted to mean someone ready to take over if the computer encounters something it can’t handle. The problem with that is that many autonomous car experts worry that it will be difficult to safely transition from computer-driven to human-driven, especially in an emergency situation, so they want to skip that stage and just have completely self-driving cars. Such cars can’t be tested in Arizona or other states that require a human at the controls. People hoped that California’s law would provide for such testing, so they were disappointed when the original rules failed to do so.

    I can see having rules like this early in the project development cycle, and that may be where we still are with this technology.

    It seems that self-drive technology has gotten a lot of miles in urban areas, but how do these vehicles manage in the “middle of nowhere” places like eastern Oregon (an area that I suppose the Antiplanner is familiar with), Highland County, Virginia (the least-populated county in the Commonwealth and one of the least-densely populated counties in the East ) and some areas of West Virginia (Pocahontas County, West Virginia is adjacent to Highland County and is similarly thinly populated).

    For example, what do self-drive cars do on the U.S. Forest Service roads in these counties, which may not be “known” to the car but are generally open to the public? Does the car revert itself to manual control?

  4. prk166


    For example, what do self-drive cars do on the U.S. Forest Service roads in these counties, which may not be “known” to the car but are generally open to the public? Does the car revert itself to manual control?

    It’ll depend on the system. Some may be able to operate, at least at reduced speeds.

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