Self Driving Vehicle Forum Held in Morgantown

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Learning to drive is a right of passage for many teens, but that tradition of teaching your kids and younger siblings to drive might be diminished with the advancement self-driving vehicles.

The Autonomous Driving Vehicle Forum in Morgantown was put on by Representative David McKinley (R) in partnership with West Virginia University.

“We see this as one of the emerging technologies that’s going to transform America, particularly in transportation/ mobility. So rather than just allow that to take place in the Beltway, let’s get it back out.”

McKinley said the engineers and innovators in West Virginia make it a great place to research and further develop self-driving cars.

“So our focus is to try to bring the technology and the engineering and the research back here because one of our missions in congress is to diversify our economy. I think this is an excellent way to go about doing that,” McKinley said.

A number of industry stakeholders including Uber, which already uses self driving cars in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona, attended the conference.

Although there have been at least one report of an accident involving a self driving car, Uber officials said they’re very safe.

“Well number one, this car drives exactly like your grandmother. It drives the speed limit. It follows every law. It does three second stops at stop signs, it’s programmed to do that. So it’s one of the safest rides that you can have, but that’s why we are operating in Pittsburgh and in Tempe, Arizona, so people can experience it first hand,” said Patrick Lyden, Uber Public Affairs.

But although the cars can drive themselves, right now Uber has vehicle operators sitting in the driver’s seat while the cars self-operate.

“We would like to see, number one, eventually the vehicle operators out of the car and these will be fully self-driving automobiles that would pick you up just like any other Uber X ride,” Lyden said.

McKinley and other officials at the forum acknowledge there are additional kinks to work out when it comes to advancing the use of autonomous driving vehicles.

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