Putting the brakes on driverless technology

Many bright Brookville students have made their way to Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University to continue their studies. An academic area increasingly popular at the renowned school is robotics, where students can learn more about how automation can change and improve lives.

The recent fatal motor vehicle accident involving a driverless vehicle in Arizona shook researchers around the nation, but perhaps especially so in Pittsburgh, the site of early driverless tech experiments.

A robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon recently gave a talk at the Pennsylvania Automated Vehicle Summit in Pittsburgh about how to make autonomous vehicles safe for other motorists.

Professor Phil Koopman is a pioneer in driverless tech and said he's been wondering when the day would come that an autonomous vehicle was involved in a fatal crash. "It seems sooner than I had expected," he said.

Because of Koopman and his peers, Pittsburgh is one of the hubs of driverless technology. He was recently asked by PennDOT to form an autonomous vehicle task force with his safety team at the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon.

Though PennDOT says the task force was planned before the fatal pedestrian crash last month in Tempe, Arizona, the accident has added urgency to the group's mission.

The technology's advocates say it has the potential to eliminate car crashes, as well reduce our nation's dependence on fossil fuels and ease traffic congestion.

No one yet knows if autonomous vehicles will live up to the hype, but we do know that many Americans are hoping that researchers slow down the pace of integrating the vehicles into everyday traffic. While everyone is in favor of fewer crashes and the accompanying injuries and fatalities, few people are today satisfied that autonomous vehicles are ready to share the roads.

If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle crash, you can pursue maximum compensation from the person responsible with the help of an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.

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