Senator Blumenthal gets firsthand look at partial self-driving c - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Senator Blumenthal gets firsthand look at partial self-driving cars

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(Sen. Richard Blumenthal tested a self driving car (WFSB) (Sen. Richard Blumenthal tested a self driving car (WFSB)

A US Senator was able to get a firsthand look at a new partial self-driving car on Tuesday.

A test ride in a self-driving car failed its test today for Sen. Richard Blumenthal. 

The Tesla 3 was supposed to stop while approaching a car on a track, but it didn’t.

Blumenthal was an observing passenger in this demo.  He said it was like having an infant behind the wheel.

It was an eye-opening field trip to the consumer reports test track in Colchester for Blumenthal.  

A key member of the prestigious Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, he was here for a look and demonstration of the emerging technology going into self-driving cars.

The red Tesla 3 and the Cadillac Super Cruise were up for the test.

“We are pushing for more safety guarantees in the legislation.  Not to block it or stop it,” Blumenthal said.

Stressing safety first, Blumenthal wants transparency from manufacturers as they go down this new road of technology, and share info about the failures such as last month’s fatality in California in which a driver died.

There was also an Uber technology vehicle that hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

“For me those incidents simply highlight what we should know all along which is safety has to be paramount,” said Blumenthal.

Test engineers at Consumer Reports said these cars are loaded with cameras and sensors inside and out.

“Right now, you can’t buy any car that can truly drive itself,” said David Friedman of Consumer Reports.

 Some of the new technology has a lot of sensors. One of the sensors is a camera on the steering column, which looks at the driver’s face.

Blumenthal appeared cool and calm as he strapped into the Tesla for his test drive out on the enclosed track.

Friedman was in the back. Behind the wheel, and hands off the steering was Jake Fisher, Consumer Report’s Director of Auto Testing.

Going 65-70 mph, all was going as planned, until the car failed to slow down approaching a vehicle positioned on the track.

Fisher manually took over the controls avoiding a collision.

“He took control and we avoided a crash.  Without him taking control, we probably would have crashed,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal wants his colleagues to try it out for themselves, so when they write new legislative guidelines, it will be safety first.

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