Driverless Cars: What to Do With Them

As Driverless Cars Falter, Are ‘Driver Assistance’ Systems in Closer Reach?

In the next few decades, self-driving cars of all kinds — cars with no human drivers behind the wheel — will be commonplace.

Some people envision automated cars as a way to cut down on driving’s inherent risks. Other people see them as a necessary tool to allow for greater mobility, access to higher-density areas like city centers and, potentially, a reduction in the number of accidents.

A key goal of driverless transportation will be to cut down on human error. So technology is being tested for everything from emergency response — like helping an elderly driver whose car has stalled to avoid it getting stuck — to parking, which is a huge source of accidents. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently developing rules for autonomous vehicles — rules that would give self-driving cars the same sort of rights and responsibilities as other vehicles on the road.

But, as automakers are working on cars to take on these new roles, some questions have arisen about what to do with the people whose jobs will no longer be driving them. Automated cars are just one vehicle category, and autonomous-driving technologies are still in the early stages of development. But the industry is talking about a new era of driverless vehicles, and people are making plans to adjust to the new reality.

One of the hottest topics among those preparing for the advent of driverless cars and technology is driver assistance systems, or DAS. The term DAS encompasses all sorts of different technologies, from blind spot detection systems to GPS-guided systems to radar-based systems.

But they often come together in one category: a means by which a driver can request help getting to a destination. “The issue is that the driver is the user, and the driver is the customer. How do you get customer service when there is no driver?” says Robert Siegel, a senior vice president at Delphi Automotive.

The promise, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is to make driving safer. As cars with self-driving capabilities are increasingly introduced, NHTSA expects to see nearly four times

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