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City Club of Eugene: The Age of Self-Driving Cars

Driverless cars are being tested on America’s roads right now. Cars without steering wheels or pedals have been approved for the road in California. Ford hopes to have a fleet of driverless cars on the roads in 2021.  The US Department of Transportation has published guidelines for the automakers.  Do you trust the technology?  What are the risks?  What are the benefits for persons with disabilities and the general population?  What is the cost?  Will the public be willing to pay?  How long will the change to a completely driverless fleet take?  Will jobs as truck drivers or bus drivers eventually disappear?  How do you insure driverless cars?  Are there moral questions in implementing driverless cars?

Bill Smart is an Associate Professor in the Robotics Program at Oregon State University.  He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from University of Dundee and a Masters Degree in Robotics from University of Edinburgh.  He also earned a Masters and PhD degrees in Computer Science form Brown University.

Ralph Parshall is the General Manager of Mercedes-Benz of Eugene.  He has worked in the automobile industry for over 50 years.  As a native Oregonian he first worked in Portland, and moved to Eugene in 1970 working for the Porsche Audi dealership, and currently 18 years at the Mercedes-Benz Dealership.

Andrew E. Dick is the Connected, Automated and Electric Vehicle (CAEV) Advisor for ODOT.  Previously he spent seven years working on electric vehicle policy and program implementation for the ten states that have adopted the California Zero Emission Vehicle Program.  He holds a Bachelor’s in International Political Economy from Colorado College.

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