This week we have a winner that is actively working to change the way people drive in the future; and a loser that has been taken to task by the Senate for not conducting their job as they should.
The newest models of Google’s self-driving cars can now be seen whizzing around the streets of Silicon Valley. This marks the first time the cars have been okayed to drive on public roads since they were unveiled about a year ago. Before this, the cars were designated to a private track 120 miles outside of San Francisco.
The company has expressed that the cars are all a part of a project to change the way people travel. The pod-like cars taking to the road this week will help Google get a better grasp of how successful the technologies is and how it interacts with vehicles steered by people.
According to the Associated Press, “California's Department of Motor Vehicles has given Google permission to send up to 25 of its latest self-driving cars on neighborhood roads.”
Depending on the level of success, Google will attempt to gain clearance to remove the steering wheel, brake pedal and emergency driver from the prototype.
This week the Senate Commerce Committee convened to discuss with Takata the ongoing recall of airbags, the largest recall in U.S. history. However, Takata wasn’t the only one under fire during this meeting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took some of the heat as well.
The Senate chose to focus much of the meeting on the many missteps of the administration during the Takata investigation, as well as during the General Motors ignition switch investigation.
The Associated Press reported that, during the meeting, senators referenced an audit done of NHTSA that noted several pressing problems. They included lack of training, failure to follow through on customer complaints and failure to hold automakers accountable. The audit also suggested extensive improvements to be made to the existing system at the agency.
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said the agency will make all the changes presented, but it will be exceptionally difficult with the budget they currently have. However, senators like Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, asserted that the agency should not receive any more funding until they show progress.
"This isn't about resources,” said McCaskill. “This is about blatant incompetent management, I'm not about to give you more money until I see meaningful progress."