Unlike a scene from The Jetsons or some futuristic sci-fi thriller, Portland is preparing to open its streets to driverless cars. Although Portland, Oregon is not the first city to open its streets to this new autonomous technology, it is the first city to do so that has hills and plenty of PDX rain along with also offering additional driving scenarios with all its various modes of transportation. Driverless cars would need to learn to drive alongside light rail trains, buses, bicycles, pedestrians and everything in between found in the City of Roses.

All of this is crucial for the advancement of such technology requiring hours upon hours of real-world testing within real-world driving scenarios which will make the algorithms smarter and safer. For many, this all might sound great, that is if Portland was an animated cartoon or a feature film, but per a recent survey from AAA (American Automobile Association), 78% of Americans feared the idea of traveling in a self-driving car.


This same survey also found that 59% said they would want autonomous technology in their next car. Of course, this was also marked with contrast between millennials, baby boomers and members of Generation X in that millennials were most likely to want this new technology in their automobiles.

Is Portland Prepared For Autonomous Vehicles?

The National League of Cities asked this very question and found that only 6% of cities are even thinking about the impact of driverless technology within their plans.

Portland, always being progressive, wants to be prepared by getting out ahead of this new technology. But one of the key items that has plagued this autonomous revolution is with finding agreement within the industry leaders on regulation.

Already, many of these leading manufactures who are working on the development of this technology have already contacted Portland officials about testing on the city streets.

Can Driverless Technology Be Safer Than Human Drivers?

Experts and industry insiders will argue that driverless technology can be safer citing the recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control that more than 30,000 thousand Americans are killed in car crashes every year.

On Portland’s roads alone last year, 44 traffic fatalities and thousands of serious injuries occurred. Yet with public perception as it is with driverless cars, the rollout must be cautious and more than likely will not involve neighborhood streets.

For certain, bringing autonomous vehicles in Portland will also bring much opportunity from within the industry developing driverless cars, city officials fully understand that safety must be first as well as see this as an opportunity to reduce the amount of traffic fatalities and serious injuries that are already occurring.

According to BigThink.com, Google has long been known as a leader in real time testing of the autonomous technology wrote that as of 1.8 million of testing driverless cars, they only experienced 13 minor fender benders. All of which, were not the fault of the driverless vehicle.

5 Reasons Why Driverless Cars Will Be Safer Than Human Drivers

  1. Did you know that 81% of automobile accidents are due to human error? The computer could actually be the ideal motorist removing bad behavior behind the wheel from the road.
  2. Computers don’t text and drive. Of course this is just one of many distractions that plague our roads in this day and age. Computers will be focused on one thing, the road and getting you from point a to point b safely.
  3. Armed with sensors and the ability to communicate with other vehicles, these autonomous cars would be able to bring greater efficiencies to the road by alerting one another of road risks and potential problems early on.
  4. These cars will have intricate algorithms which will allow them to best gauge distances between other vehicles as well as appropriate distances needed for stopping. All of which will reduce the potential and risk of accidents.
  5. Computers also don’t drink and drive. According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving With autonomous cars, there will also be a designated driver.

What Is Portland Doing To Prepare For Driverless Cars?

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently leading the charge of readying Portland’s streets for driverless cars by developing a set of rules for pilot programs to begin testing autonomous technology.

With a focus on getting out ahead of this technology and with its own city wide initiatives, the Rose City is looking to further partner with companies developing this technology on how they both can work to reduce carbon emissions in accordance to city goals.

Portland officials also are looking to expand the use of this technology and further connect driverless vehicles to its already award winning and progressive public transit system. Ideas like autonomous transit vehicles such as shuttles and buses are already being discussed as well.

In this, Portland seeks to be a leader with the implementation of this futuristic technology. Though it will take a few years to fully finalize and inform the rules and regulations, waiting is simply not an option.

Besides, wasn’t it just yesterday this was all just a cartoon?

Are you ready to ride along in a driverless Portland car? How about share the road with one? The future has arrived and ready or not, here it comes.