An independent panel pulled together by the Australian government released a report this week trying to hash out the difficulties that governing bodies will face in rewriting laws for humans engaging self-driving systems. That panel, called the National Transport Commission (NTC), wants to develop a clear set of laws by 2020, and its paper (PDF) solicited feedback from key industry players as the panel moves forward.
Though it may seem obvious that a drunk person should be allowed to be taxied home by a fully autonomous car, the question is less clear if you have to determine just how autonomous an autonomous vehicle needs to be for a drunk person to operate it. The government should want drunk people to engage a high-level autonomous driving system if the alternative is driving themselves home, but if they’ll be penalized for being drunk while they’re “in control” of an autonomous vehicle, uptake of self-driving systems may be slow.
Instead, the NTC argues, drunk driving offenses should only apply to drunk people who are manually operating their vehicles but not to people who have merely started an autonomous car. The present rules “exist because a person who starts or sets in motion a conventional vehicle while under the influence clearly has an intention to drive,” the NTC writes.
The questions are being raised in the US, too. At the Governors’ Highway Safety Association meeting this week, US authorities discussed open container laws in autonomous vehicles. Currently, it’s illegal to have an open alcohol container in a car while you’re driving US roads. But should that apply in fully autonomous systems where no one is driving?
Who makes these rules and enforces them is its own debate in the US, too, with the Trump administration largely calling for a continuation of the Obama administration’s “light regulatory touch” philosophy when it comes to automakers building self-driving cars. In Congress, the House passed a bill last month directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to adopt some guidelines for self-driving cars analogous to its regulation of manually driven cars.
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Self-driving cars are already in the here-and-now, but just how soon will be helping to improve the lives of handicapped and elderly will change the quality of life for millions.
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A pickup point for Uber at LaGuardia airport in New York. Uber has faced criticism before over its treatment of drivers. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP
Uber to pay New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars after admitting to underpaying them for two-and-a-half years by taking a larger cut of drivers’ fares than it was entitled.
Under the terms of service the ride-hailing company put in place in November 2014, Uber was supposed to take its percentage of the commission – ranging between 20% and 25% – after deducting sales tax and a local fee to fund benefits for injured drivers. Instead, the company calculated its commission on the gross fare, resulting in more money for Uber and less for drivers.The average payout-per-driver will be about $900. With tens of thousands of drivers eligible for a refund, the company will be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars. An Uber spokesperson said that the company discovered the mistake in recent weeks, as it was preparing to roll out a new pricing scheme.
However, questions about Uber’s calculation of New York City commissions were raised nearly a year ago in a class-action lawsuit filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA). The suit, which was filed in federal court in New York in June 2016, alleged that Uber’s deduction of sales tax and the injured driver fee after the commission was calculated violated the terms of service and amounted to wage “theft”.
Uber also has admitted to underpaying US drivers. In March, the company paid refunds to UberBlack drivers in Philadelphia after charging them an extra 5% in commission for about 18 months. In January, Uber agreed to pay $20m to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that it had tricked drivers with false promises of higher earnings.
Data revealed that New York City received a record 993 Billion in fines last year. Noise pollution and littering up 51 %. Parking tickets accounted for 55% of fines. The Mayor promised to ease financial burdens on city businesses.
Uber has announced updates to its app intended to curb bad behavior by passengers.Key among the changes is allowing passengers to see the ratings they receive from drivers — knowledge the company hopes will make customers more cognizant of the fact their behavior is being graded during every trip.