Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo and several groups are launching a campaign aimed at convincing skeptical Americans of what they say is the value and safety of driverless cars, as Congress considers how it will regulate the technology.
The company said on Monday that it was teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Federation for Blind Children in a campaign called ‘Let’s Talk Self-Driving.’
The campaign says that self-driving cars could help eliminate most alcohol-related crash deaths and allow the blind broader access to personal transportation.
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Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo and several groups are launching a campaign aimed at convincing skeptical Americans of what they say is the value and safety of driverless cars, as Congress considers how it will regulate the technology
The vehicles also have difficulty with other driving challenges, such as cul-de-sacs.
Mall entrances, which are often times off a public street, also present problems when Waymo’s sensors haven’t mapped the area
The country is wrangling with how to regulate the rapidly growing technology, with critics arguing that Congress is moving too fast and not ensuring enough safeguards.
Waymo, which began as the Google self-driving car project, said the campaign will begin on Monday in Arizona, where the company is testing self-driving cars.
It is set to include digital ads, outdoor billboards, fuel pump advertising and radio spots.
The company declined to say how much the advertising campaign will cost.
Recent surveys show a majority of Americans are unsure about self-driving cars.
In March, the American Automobile Association (AAA) said it had found that three-quarters of U.S. drivers said they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.
In February, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urged ‘Silicon Valley, Detroit, and all other auto industry hubs to step up and help educate a skeptical public about the benefits of automated technology.’
Waymo chief executive John Krafcik said in a blog post: ‘There’s great enthusiasm and curiosity about self-driving cars – and there’s some confusion, too.’
he company said on Monday that it was teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Federation for Blind Children in a campaign called ‘Let’s Talk Self-Driving’
He added that the ‘technology can help address some of the biggest safety challenges on our roads today.’
U.S. traffic deaths jumped 5.6 percent in 2016 to a decade-high of 37,461, and pedestrians killed rose 9 percent to 5,987, the highest number since 1990, statistics showed last week.
GOOGLE’S CARS BECOME WAYMO
And it revealed the vehicles it will use – specially developed Crysler minivans. The hybrid vehicles are expected to form part of Google’s ridesharing service, and are already being tested in California.
As we get fully self-driving cars ready for the road, we’ll need more types of vehicles to refine and test our advanced driving software,’ Waymo CEO Jon Krafcik wrote.
‘That’s why in May we teamed up with FCA to work on adding 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo’s fleet.
But prior to the shift, a top executive at partner Alphabet Inc highlighted how costly the original program was. Google change to Waymo in December
‘With this great new minivan on the road in our test markets, we’ll learn how people of all ages, shapes, and group sizes experience our fully self-driving technology.’
The team has spent six months on the joint program.
Using several of our early prototype minivans, we’ve already run a gamut of tests, including over 200 hours of extreme-weather testing,’ Krafcik said.
‘Before starting production in October, we’d put these early vehicles through their paces at our own test track in California, and FCA’s Chelsea Proving Gro
unds in Chelsea, MI and their Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, AZ.
We’re looking forward to having these new vehicles on public roads in 2017.’ To underscore his point, Krafcik revealed the project had hit a key milestone in the journey to having fully autonomous cars cruising around public roads.
In a trip taken in October 2015 , a pod-like car with no steering wheel and brake pads drove a legally blind passenger around neighborhoods in Austin, Texas without another human in the vehicle.
It marked the first time one of the project’s cars had given a passenger a ride without a human on hand to take control of a self-driving car if something went wrong.
On Wednesday, a U.S. Senate panel unanimously gave the green light to a bill aimed at speeding the use of self-driving cars without human controls, a measure that also bars states from imposing regulatory road blocks.
The bill still must clear a full Senate vote, but it appears on track to passage.
General Motors Co, Alphabet, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for the landmark legislation, while auto safety groups have pledged to keep fighting for changes.