A new self-driving vehicle has drawn a lot of attention after it was noticed on the streets of Arlington, Virginia.
The car didn’t have any noticeable signs of a Lidar technology that is usually used to gauge the state of the road ahead, but just a tiny bar on the dashboard which blinked red when the car was at a stop light and green when it was permitted to continue. Tech bloggers were intrigued with the lack of the bulky imaging technology but even more baffling was the fact that the car seemed to be driving completely independently, ie. no one was seen sitting behind the wheel.
A human is usually required to oversee the testing phase in order to ensure that the car doesn’t cause an accident, but it seemed that whoever was responsible succeeded in finding a loophole. The timing was perfect. Just a week before the mysterious occurrence, Virginia had authorized the testing of autonomous vehicles in its territory, although at first it was allowed only on closed lanes of two highways, it was soon expanded to “light traffic conditions”.
Also, local university Virginia Tech has been testing self-driving cars in the area. Still, everyone continued wondering who was behind this incredible new technology and how were they able to solve the problems that had troubled even the mammoth Alphabet/Google/Waymo Corp.
Well, it turns out it was too good to be true after all. It was only a person disguised as a car seat. Adam Tuss of NBC Washington followed the car so he could take some photos of its interior. When he pulled up next to it at a traffic light, he realized the car was being driven by a man dressed up as a car seat.
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) August 7, 2017
When Tuss tried to talk to him, he sped off. However, one thing about this story was accurate. The man certainly was connected to Virginia Tech. He was researching self-driving cars, probably gathering information about reactions of drivers to sharing a road with an autonomous vehicle.
“The driver’s seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings,” a VT spokesperson said.
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