The Drive Towards Autonomous Cars
Are you ready? Are you prepared to jump in that taxi or onto that bus, realizing that there isn’t a human being sitting behind the steering wheel? Well, if your answer is “no” then I would suggest that you start to get yourself ready. It’s coming, they are coming, and the drive for putting these autonomous vehicles on our roads is increasing rapidly. Google, Tesla, Hyundai, GM and others are digging deep, testing rigorously and spending billions of dollars to have the first successful autonomous vehicle.
There already have been plenty of accidents during this testing phase. With the exception of one accident that included the death of the driver, all other accidents have been minor. According to a study performed by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, at the request of Google, autonomous cars or self driving cars, are less likely to be in an accident than human driven cars.The article goes on to say that there was another study conducted, that revealed opposite results (1).
This is where I slam on the brakes with both feet and bring it to a halt (thankfully the brilliant, high-tech Anti-Lock Braking System helped me to stay in control). I turn my four-way hazard lights on (of course operated through a fiber optic system connected to a data-bus in constant communication with the main Electronic Control Unit), so that I can worn others of the potential danger ahead. Hmm, something isn’t quite right….
I’m not against advancement through innovative technology being applied in a safe, useful, and productive way. I’m concerned for the people of our country. Not everyone is going to understand. Not everyone is going to care. Not everyone is going to be educated about these vehicles. And really, lets be honest, we’ve all experienced stupid people. You can’t fix stupid.
I believe that there will be a small cross section of Americans that will ever even see an autonomous vehicle, let alone ride in one. I’ve been in all of the lower 48 states. I’ve been to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Phoenix, and many other cities. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve used public transportation, (taxi, bus, subway, or train). And what about the incredible amount of foreigners that are here? Even if they are just traveling. Are we to expect that they know what one of these vehicles are? I can see it now, people pointing and laughing believing that someone is playing a trick on them. Let me set a scene; You are taking your first steps from the curb to cross the street, since the crossing light flashed it was ok, you turn and see a car moving straight towards you, and then you don’t see a driver! What would you do? Scream? Run? Freeze like a deer in the headlights? I believe that it will rattle many folks. *Sigh* I think I feel an anxiety attack coming on already!
I applaud these companies in their battle to successfully develop the complicated software to interact with the hardware and safely leave someone out of the driver’s seat. I’m excited, but cautiously so. I’m apprehensive, with my hands firmly at 10 and 2 on my own steering wheel.
I’ve renewed my anxiety medication……I’ve added 15 more minutes to my meditation each day…