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This Was Supposed to Be the Year Driverless Cars Went Mainstream


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A Voyage autonomous vehicle in action.

Even before the conronavirus pandemic, accidents and other safety issues made industry players realize driverless car technology was far from ready for the public.

Credit: Ian C. Bates/The New York Times

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted technology companies' plans to bring autonomous vehicles into the mainstream this year.

Even before the crisis, accidents and other safety issues made industry players realize driverless car technology was far from ready for the public.

Perfecting the technology requires on-road testing with at least two people in each vehicle to avoid accidents, which social distancing restrictions make impossible.

The delays further dampen investor enthusiasm for funding the technology's developers, although better-funded companies can tap cash reserves to wait out the pandemic.

Some firms prevented from on-road trials, like the Silicon Valley-based Voyage startup, are using digital simulation to virtually test vehicles, but Voyage's Davide Bacchet said, "Simulation is not something you do in a vacuum, without any connection with the real world and real data."

From The New York Times
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