After years of research, investment and hope, both automakers and tech companies believe that fully autonomous vehicles will soon be within our grasp.
We've known for some time that Google has been researching self-driving technology, though so far all of its efforts have been experimental. Recently, Ford went a step further and announced that it planned to build autonomous vehicles that lack both steering wheels or pedals by 2021, according to The Verge.
"Transportation companies may be moving forward with a technology that has not been adequately tested."
But ride-sharing company Uber may get the prize for the boldest announcement. Recode reports that the company will test its fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month.
Though each vehicle will still have a human driver monitoring its progress and taking over at certain points in every journey, this will still mark a major step forward for the transportation industry.
The question is: could the industry be moving too fast?
Writing for Tech.pinions, contributor Phil Baker argues that transportation companies may be moving forward with a technology that has not been adequately tested, possibly putting drivers and passengers at risk.
"It's impossible for engineers to anticipate every situation," Baker wrote, adding that roads in major cities are incredibly complicated, with a number of different obstacles and traffic situations. And though some companies, like Google, have done extensive testing, Baker said that it would be unlikely for them to share their findings with competitors like Uber.
It seems increasingly clear that self-driving cars will one day be a reality. But it is crucial that they be tested in real-world conditions before being released to the general public. A vehicle testing service can play an important role in ensuring that all critical components are working properly.