• Ford, Volvo, Google Launch Group To Champion Autonomous Cars

Five-company coalition also includes ride sharing rivals Uber and Lyft

In what could very well be a landmark moment for autonomous driving technology, Ford and Volvo have teamed up with Google, Uber, and Lyft to form a coalition that will push for federal action to help expedite the development of autonomous cars. The group calls itself the “Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets” and it’s main objective is to work hand-in-hand with lawmakers, regulators, and the general public in an effort to raise awareness of the “safety and societal benefits” of autonomous vehicles.

The formation of this group is about as serious as it gets in championing autonomous driving technology. All five companies not only share a common interest in the technology, but they’re also bent on ensuring that the tech gets the proper exposure and awareness from as many sectors as possible. It’s even tabbed former NHTSA chief David Strickland to act as the group’s counsel and spokesman.

Strickland himself discussed the formation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Cars in a conversation with Reuters, where in he emphasized the main objectives of the group as it pertains to the creation of specific rules on how autonomous driving cars can be integrated into public roads. The former NHTSA chief also insisted that the group isn’t an organized lobbying formation, but merely a “full policy and messaging campaign movement.”

The formation of the group comes at an intriguing time, especially when you take account the NHTSA’s own plans to issue self-driving guidelines by July 2016. The agency hopes to release these guidance to states, policymakers, automakers, and companies that are involved in developing autonomous driving technology.

It remains to be seen how effective the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets will be in championing this cause. But the mere formation of the group and those involved in it paints a clear picture that all parties are all-in on the development of autonomous driving technology.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

For those who are still skeptical about the feasibility of autonomous driving technology, the formation of this group is as good a sign as any that some of the biggest proponents of the technology are more than willing to champion this cause in an attempt to get the attention of state and federal lawmakers. I saw the list of companies involved and at first, I raised my eyebrows seeing Uber and Lyft both involved in it.

Those two companies are rivals and have no love lost for each other, yet to see them band together with Ford, Volvo, and Google and push for this cause is pretty darn reassuring. Now I admit that the objectives are still confusing at this point, but all five companies seem to have it clear that the coalition wasn’t created to be a lobbyist in the sensationalized sense, but in the more traditional method of going to bat for its cause and to make sure that everyone, be it “civic organizations, municipalities, and businesses” will be properly educated and information of the vision to bring autonomous driving cars into U.S. roads.

I understand where the skepticism is coming from, especially from a safety point-of-view. But it’s easy to see why everyone’s pushing to get guidelines on how it can proceed with the testing and development of the tech. Each of the five companies are invested in autonomous driving technology so it’s easy to see why they’re all involved in this coalition. But this isn’t just about Ford, Volvo, Google, Uber, or Lyft.

This is about the inevitable evolution of the auto industry and the challenges that come with trying to convince the proper decision makers that autonomous driving technology is the future of the business. I personally don’t know where this is going to lead, but I like the idea that a lot of the industry’s heavyweights are banding together to see this through. Just goes to show how important this technology really is in shaping the future of the business.

Source: Reuters

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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