DRIVER­LESS CARS:

Automobile - - Progress -

L E V E L 4 F U L LY au­to­mated (in cer­tain con­di­tions) driver­less ve­hi­cles are al­ready here. In Phoenix, res­i­dents can ap­ply for Waymo’s Early Rider pro­gram, which al­lows them to take tax­i­like rides around the metro area in the com­pany’s au­to­mated Chrysler Paci­fi­cas and hy­brid mini­vans—no driver nec­es­sary. “It makes sense,” Huei Peng says. “Phoenix has no snow, very lit­tle rain. It’s eas­ier to keep the cam­era lenses and li­dar clear without de­grad­ing op­er­a­tion.”

Peng’s Ann Ar­bor-based Mc­ity op­er­ates two au­to­mated shut­tles stu­dents can ride around the Univer­sity of Michi­gan cam­pus. “I call it Level 4-mi­nus,” Peng says. “Be­cause our shut­tles are fixed-route only, it’s hugely dif­fer­ent, a much sim­pler en­vi­ron­ment. We only need to be per­fect on this one route. A driver isn’t nec­es­sary, but for now we do have a safety con­duc­tor on board at all times. We choose to op­er­ate the shut­tles as Level 3 ve­hi­cles so the com­mu­nity and rid­ers feel more com­fort­able.”

Level 2 par­tially au­to­mated ve­hi­cles are sold by GM (Cadil­lac Su­per Cruise), Nis­san (ProPilot), Tesla (Au­topi­lot), and Mercedes-Benz (Distronic Plus), among oth­ers. The first com­mer­cially avail­able Level 3 ve­hi­cle, which can take full con­trol un­der con­stant driver su­per­vi­sion, is ex­pected to be Audi’s 2019 A8. (As we go to press, Traf­fic Jam Pi­lot has yet to be ap­proved for the U.S. mar­ket.) In­ter­est­ingly, in 2012 Google built a Level 3 ve­hi­cle for test­ing by its em­ploy­ees, who could ride from Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, to Lake Ta­hoe. “Af­ter look­ing at the data from on­board cam­eras, they stopped the pro­gram,” Larry Burns says. “Peo­ple were fall­ing asleep, eat­ing, read­ing—they were do­ing things that made it im­pos­si­ble to re-en­gage the driver. That’s

Where They Stand Now

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