Are Self Driving Cars Coming to Maine and New Hampshire?
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.
By now most of us have seen the viral video of two older men (81) getting into a driverless vehicle (a ride share) for the first time.
If you have not seen it, let me show you below:
Driverless cars seemed like the future, like the way distant future, just a few years ago.
Now, at least two US cities are using driverless vehicles, with many other cities doing testing and research with hopes to start going driverless ASAP. The closest state to New England that is testing in Pennsylvania. All of the active states that are participating are using driverless cars for ride-sharing - like a Taxi, Uber, or Lyft.
The company that seems to be leading the forefront is Waymo in Phoenix, AZ, according to an IOT Times article:
The company launched a semi-public ride-hailing service back in 2018 and started to ramp up its fully autonomous ride-sharing service toward the end of last year. Anyone living in the East Valley area in Phoenix can now hail and ride in a driverless robo-taxi. While the program is limited to the East Valley area in Phoenix, the company hopes to expand its services throughout the country eventually.
But the launches have had some hiccups, like accidents.
Now all cars get into accidents, whether it is the driver's fault, or in this case the AI, another driver, or even a pedestrian.
Oh and to be clear, because of the growing demand, New Hampshire has published laws to allow the deployment of autonomous vehicles outside commercial use, according to a Hot Cars article.
Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont all have legislation passed that allows the testing of autonomous vehicles.
So this trend is growing, and states need to be prepared.
According to a Business Insider article, "The global self-driving cars market size is projected to grow from 20.3 million units in 2021 to 62.4 million units by 2030, at a CAGR of 13.3%."
So the question is, would this work in Maine and New Hampshire? Realistically the only cities that would use ridesharing frequently in Portland, ME, Manchester, NH, Nashua, NH, and the seacoast area (Portsmouth, Dover, etc.).
Here is my fear - the pedestrians.
"Currently, autonomous vehicles have several “senses” they use to navigate the world, including cameras, radar, lidar, and GPS," according to a Reliance Foundry article.
AI, camera, etc may be great until something out of the ordinary happens. Locals know where pedestrians are likely to cross without a crosswalk, but does a driverless car?
With driverless cars being tested in Pennsylvania, and legislation passed elsewhere, is New England next? How would you feel if you saw these things on the streets of your downtown?