Is driverless technology ready for the roads?

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Imagine driving your car and you look over at the car next to you -- and there’s no driver at the wheel! It sounds like science fiction, but this is already becoming a reality. This week the California Department of Motor Vehicles can begin issuing driverless testing and deployment permits for autonomous vehicle manufacturers. One manufacturer already decided not to apply for this permit: Uber. The company is still investigating last month’s fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona involving a self-driving car.

DnA spoke to Grayson Brulte, who advises the city of Beverly Hills about autonomous vehicles, about what the Wright Brothers and the music industry can teach us about innovation and adaptation, why truck drivers will benefit from autonomy, and why “we're on the cusp of one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of society.”

Grayson Brulte, an autonomous vehicle consultant in Beverly Hills, says “autonomy will change every single aspect of the economy.” Photo credit: Avishay Artsy.

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog is far less enthusiastic, telling us that “the push for complete autonomy may be misguided and selected applications might make more sense.”

Meanwhile Matt Petersen, head of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, is concerned about autonomy’s role in creating a cleaner, more sustainable future, saying it has to go hand in hand with electrification, as well as meeting safety needs.

And Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city is preparing for a self-driving future, telling DnA, “it's a real exciting opportunity, but we have to do it right.”