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Autonomous Vehicles Blog - Driving the Future

Autonomous vehicle technology has reached a place where certain technologies are market-ready or readily adaptable to transit operations, and further automation technologies continue to be developed.  These developments are expected to result in future operational savings in part through the elimination of driver and maintenance staff positions and reduced overtime.  For the remaining workers, job responsibilities will change and new skills will be required.  Even partial automation may result in job losses or a “de-skilling” of the vehicle operator role.  These eventualities will trigger labor law obligations.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced an opportunity to apply for up to $85 million in competitive grant funds through FTA’s Low or No Emission (Low-No) Bus Program. The program provides funding for the purchase or lease of Low-No buses that use advanced technologies. Eligible projects also include construction of facilities and related equipment to accommodate the buses.

According to a recent study, people with darker skin are more likely to be hit by autonomous vehicles than people with lighter skin. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology concluded that object detection systems of the type used in autonomous vehicles had uniformly poorer performance when detecting pedestrians with darker skin types. 

Transit agencies are poised to reap many benefits by implementing autonomous vehicle technology, but numerous barriers to implementation exist. At least that’s what the Federal Transit Authority says in its 2018 Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan (the “STAR Plan”).

In an interview with Thomson Reuters, Michael Greco, chair of Fisher Phillips’ new Autonomous Vehicles Practice Group, discusses the launch of the practice with legal correspondent Daniel Wiessner.

An autonomous vehicle (AV) is driving with its passenger when suddenly a child steps into the street. The AV has a choice: hit the child or swerve into oncoming traffic risking the life of the passenger and possibly others. Tragically, the AV hits the child.

The autonomous vehicle revolution promises many benefits.  To name a few: eliminating virtually all accidents; drastically reducing traffic congestion; and providing an economical and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.  However, if AVs are to achieve their full potential, interconnectivity is the key.  AVs will need to communicate with each other, the surrounding infrastructure, and with a host of platforms. 

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