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Self-Driving Cars Will Be Ready Before Our Laws Are

Putting autonomous vehicles on the road isn’t just a matter of fine-tuning the technology

10 min read
Self-Driving Cars Will Be Ready Before Our Laws Are
Illustration: J.D. King

It is the year 2023, and for the first time, a self-driving car navigating city streets strikes and kills a pedestrian. A lawsuit is sure to follow. But exactly what laws will apply? Nobody knows. Today, the law is scrambling to keep up with the technology, which is moving forward at a breakneck pace, thanks to efforts by Apple, Audi, BMW, Ford [pdf], General Motors, Google, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Nvidia, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Google’s prototype self-driving cars, with test drivers always ready to take control, are already on city streets in Mountain View, Calif., and Austin, Texas. In the second half of 2015, Tesla Motors began allowing owners (not just test drivers) to switch on its Autopilot mode.

The law now assumes that a human being is in the driver’s seat, which is why Google’s professional drivers and Tesla owners are supposed to keep their hands near the wheel and their eyes on the road. (Tesla’s cars use beeps and other warnings to make sure they do so.) That makes the vehicles street legal for now, but it doesn’t help speed the rollout of fully autonomous vehicles.

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Paying Tribute to Computer Science Pioneer Frederick Brooks, Jr.

He helped develop the IBM System/360 and its operating system

3 min read
portrait of an elderly man in a a red tie and blazer with a bookcase in the background
University of North Carolina

Frederick P. Brooks Jr., a prolific computer scientist and longtime professor of computer science, died on 17 November at the age of 91.

While working as a project manager at IBM in the 1960s, the IEEE Life Fellow led the development of the System/360 computer family. It was the first vertically compatible family of mainframe computers. Brooks also developed IBM’s OS/360, the world’s largest software project at the time. He is credited with coining the term computer architecture, which is used to describe how hardware and software are organized to make up a computer system and the operations which guide its function. He wrote The Mythical Man-Month, a book of essays published in 1975 that detailed lessons he learned from challenges he faced while developing the OS/360.

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NYU Researchers Pave the Way for Future Shared Mobility

The C2SMART Center at NYU is tackling the most pressing issues in urban transportation

5 min read
E-scooters

NYU researchers led by civil and urban engineering professor Joseph Chow are working in the area of micromobility, a category of transit that includes electric bicycles and scooters, which has grown in popularity in cities around the world.

Shutterstock

This is a sponsored article brought to you by NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

The collection of technologies and markets that comprise so-called "shared mobility" now constitutes a $60 billion market, according to some estimates. This enormous growth has at least in part been driven by the aim of reducing vehicle carbon emissions to address climate change concerns.

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