Self-driving cars are “absolutely not” ready for widespread deployment despite a rush to put them on the road, a U.S. robotics expert warned Tuesday.
The cars aren’t yet able to handle bad weather, including standing water, drizzling rain, sudden downpours and snow, Missy Cummings, director of Duke University’s robotics program, told the Senate commerce committee. And they certainly aren’t equipped to follow the directions of a police officer, she said.
While enthusiastic about research into self-driving cars, “I am decidedly less optimistic about what I perceive to be a rush to field systems that are absolutely not ready for widespread deployment, and certainly not ready for humans to be completely taken out of the driver’s seat,” Cummings said.
It’s relatively easy for hackers to take control of the GPS navigation systems of self-driving cars, Cummings said.
“It is feasible that people could commandeer self-driving vehicles ... to do their bidding, which could be malicious or simply just for the thrill of it,” she said, adding that privacy of personal data is another concern.
General Motors and Google officials who testified before the committee voiced worries that a patchwork of state and local laws will hinder deployment of the vehicles. They want federal regulators to speed up rules to help get them on the road.
In the past two years, 23 states have introduced 53 pieces of legislation that affect selfdriving cars, said Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program.