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Self-Driving Cars ‘Absolutely Not Ready,’ Says Researcher

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March 28, 2016—Missy Cummings, an engineering professor and human-factors expert at Duke University, argued that self-driving cars are “absolutely not ready for widespread deployment,” when she spoke to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, according to a report from Automotive News.

The committee called on Cummings to speak after industry executives from Google, Delphi, General Motors and Lyft testified on the advent of autonomous vehicle technology.

Cummings, who was a Navy pilot from 1988 to 1999 said that driving is more complex than aviation, due to the density of obstacles on the road such as pedestrians, bicycles and other vehicles. She argued that the technology isn’t at the point yet where the steering wheel can be removed from the car, nor can the driver expect to be able to read, snack or do other things while the car is driving. 

Cummings said that the technology must be tested and proven by the manufacturer to be capable in every situation, where the driver will never be needed. She said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) needs to set guidelines for manufacturers so that they know what safety standards are expected of them. 

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