People probably assume that major cities like Los Angeles already have self-driving vehicles on every street. But not so. However, that might be about to change…and it might not.
Waymo has just announced that it’s bringing its self-driving cars (all Chrysler Pacifica minivans developed by Google’s parent company, Alphabet) to the United States’ second most populated city, Los Angeles. In order to determine if their vehicles can fit into the city’s complex (and problematic) transportation system, it needs a digital 3D map of the city first. And in order to legally operate the vehicles, LA’s Department of Transportation wants the data to be shared with them. But Waymo just isn’t sure it’s ready to disclose its data yet.
Currently, electric vehicles of all sorts are being plugged into a digital tool called Mobility Data Specification (MDS), which was developed by the Department of Transportation to track electric scooters and other shared mobility devices on its streets. “We wanted to build something that was future proof,” the general manager of the tool’s production company explained. “We’re not necessarily clear on what that next opportunity is going to be in. But we want to be ready for it because we know it’s coming.”
And it sounds like it might be self-driving cars…if they’re willing. But they might not be.
The MDS system was intended to impose traffic regulations off of normal traffic avenues, but its been receiving significant pushback for its potential for law enforcement abuse to track specific people. Waymo might not want to cooperate, but many argue that autonomous vehicles should be incorporated by the same principle. Only time will tell if they even have a choice when, or if, they decide to launch a passenger service in the city.