• Google Self-Driving Car

Google Self-Driving Car (Photo : Twitter)

New Year's Day 2017 is nearly here and as planet Earth races to the finish line of 2016 it is time to review the last year. The auto industry and tech world continue to join forces to form an amalgamation of the two sectors. Autonomous vehicles (AV) were big news during 2016 and the trend will continue during the next Gregorian calendar year.

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 Here were some top car tech stories in 2016:

1. First Self-driving Car Fatality

The first death involving an AV took place in May. A Tesla Model S owner died while his sedan was in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. That car accident happened when the driver and the car's sensors failed to pick up a white tractor-trailer crossing the highway.      

When Tesla drivers switch on Autopilot a message is displayed explaining that the system is an "assist feature" so they must always keep both hands on the steering wheel.  

2. EPA Takes Up Fuel Economy

Super-low energy prices have boosted demand for less fuel-efficient cars and trucks such as SUVs. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that 2022-2025 standards stay unchanged, according to Forbes.

It made the ruling before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, which will make it tougher for the Trump administration to change the national standards.   

3. Google Announces Waymo Company

The Alphabet company is launching a new self-driving project called Waymo whose CEO will be ex-Hyundai executive John Krafcik. It is a sign the search giant's long-term goal is to make money from its autonomous tech.    

Google has a big head start over Apple in AV research. The Steve Jobs co-founded company has stopped developing its self-driving car and will focus on producing autonomous systems for automakers.  

4. Driverless Car Testing Speeds Up

Uber has launched a pilot program in California and Pittsburgh to test driverless vehicles. The future of the car-sharing company's future that could include robotic taxis will greatly be based on the results of the current road tests in the Golden State and Pennsylvania.

Fiat Chrysler, meanwhile, unveiled its Pacifica hybrid minivan. The Italian-American company shared it teamed up with Google to build the vehicles whose self-driving tech will be tested next year, according to Jalopnik.   

Here's how a self-driving car works: