Driverless cars – this week's news digest

Light trails in Singapore at night

With Christmas fast approaching, it's been a busy few days in the world of driverless cars.

To avoid bombarding you with stories over the festive season, we've compiled some of this week's key developments into a single Christmas news round-up.

We hope you enjoy the read, and have a very relaxing holiday period (even if you don't get a self-driving car for Christmas...)

Norway launches consultation on self-driving cars

The Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications has announced that it is consulting on a proposal to put self-driving vehicles onto the country’s roads

The proposed new law would allow for self-driving vehicles to be tested by the public – a step the Government hopes will aid the development and testing of new technologies in Norway.

Self-driving vehicles will be introduced gradually onto Norway’s roads. The government said that only “technologically mature” systems will be approved for testing, to understand the effects self-driving vehicles have on traffic safety and efficiency, mobility and the environment.

Norwegian Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen in front of a self-driving bus  Photo: Tor Midtbø/SD

Norwegian Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen in front of a self-driving bus Photo: Tor Midtbø/SD

“Allowing testing of self-driving vehicles by the public within a safe framework will provide valuable information and experience that we can use to develop such technologies in the future,” said Norwegian Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen.

Honda and Waymo enter discussions on self-driving technology

Honda announced this week that it is entering into formal discussions with Waymo (formerly Google’s self-driving car project) over the integration of its self-driving technology with Honda vehicles.

The discussion on technical collaboration between Honda researchers and Waymo’s self-driving technology team could see Honda provide Waymo with vehicles modified to accommodate the latter’s self-driving technology.

Honda has previously said that it hopes to have production vehicles with automated driving capabilities on the roads sometime around 2020.

The company said that its collaboration with Waymo would allow it to “explore a different technological approach to bring fully self-driving technology to market”. 

California’s DMV revokes registration of Uber’s self-driving cars in San Francisco

Following Uber’s recent announcement that it had begun testing self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco, a disagreement quickly developed with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which requires self-driving car manufacturers to obtain permits before testing can take place.

With Uber initially resisting the DMV’s calls to seek a testing permit, the DMV announced that it had taken action to revoke the registration of 16 of Uber’s vehicles. 

In a statement, the regulator said: “It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles.”

Following the company’s confirmation that it had removed its autonomous vehicles from the roads, DMV Director Jean M. Shiomoto said in a letter to Uber: “I appreciate the action that Uber has taken in the interest of public safety.”

Shiomoto went on to reiterate the DMV’s position that while it supports the development of autonomous technologies, it requires companies to test their vehicles responsibly.

“We are committed to assisting Uber in their efforts to innovate and advance this ground-breaking technology,” the letter concluded.

Non-drivers in mature markets in Asia Pacific and Japan show higher interest in driverless cars than drivers

A recent survey looking at attitudes towards driverless cars in several mature markets in Asia Pacific and Japan has found that while more than half of the respondents expressed willingness to buy a driverless car or use one as a taxi, non-drivers were more interested in using a driverless car than drivers.

The "Autonomous Driving" survey, sponsored by Intel, questioned respondents in Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

It found a high overall degree of awareness about driverless cars in these markets, with 83% of those questioned being aware of driverless cars. This figure rose to a massive 94% in Taiwan. 

Consumers in the region expect it to be around six years before driverless cars are commonly available in their markets – although in Singapore, almost 30% of those questioned think driverless cars will be available within three years.