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Thu Sep 29 20:41:04 CAT 2016

Drivers might be on road to extinction

Bloomberg | 23 September, 2016 07:23

Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

New rules of the road for robot cars from Washington DC could lead to the extinction of one of the archetypes of the past century: the human driver.

Although banning people from driving might seem like something from a Kurt Vonnegut story, it's the logical endgame of a technology that could reduce - or even eliminate - the 1.25million road deaths a year globally.

Human error is the cause of 94% of road fatalities, US safety regulators say.

Autonomous cars already have "superhuman intelligence" that allows them to see around corners and avoid crashes, said Danny Shapiro, senior director of Nvidia's automotive division.

"Long-term, these vehicles will drive better than any human," Shapiro said. "We're not there yet but we will get there sooner than many believe."

Regulators are accelerating the shift with new rules that will provide a path for going fully driverless by removing the requirement that a human serve as a backup.

This week, technology industry veterans proposed a ban on human drivers on a 241km stretch of Interstate 5 from Seattle to Vancouver.

Within five years, human driving could be outlawed in congested city centres, said Kristin Schondorf, executive director for automotive transportation at consultancy EY.

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