Should Your Car Be Driving For You?


Since I was a kid I have always dreamed of replicators, teleporters and self-driving cars – blame Star Trek. I would never have thought that one of these would be invented during my lifetime. I guess I was wrong because for many years some big-name companies have been working on making this a reality. Companies like Google, Mercedes-Benz, NVidia and many more are getting closer to having one of these self-driving cars on the road in the next 5 to 10 years. The first time I heard this was going to be a reality I was like, ‘This is awesome! Now I can send my 8 year old to the grocery store while I hang at home playing my PS4!”. Unfortunately, this is still going to be against the law but hey, I can still dream. The question is, with this technology coming in our lifetime how many have stopped to think, ‘Will it be safe?’

Mercedes-concept-11C1220_058

I’m all for innovation but being a tech I’m also cautious about new technology. So I have some questions:

  • What fail-safes and overrides will be in place?
  • Will there be encryption that prohibits hackers from taking over the vehicle?
  • Will actual drivers be required, regardless of their driving experience or skills, and how will testing for a driver’s license proceed?
  • Will the ‘auto’ control the speed or just steer?
  • If speed is controlled, what if there is an adjusted speed zone, such as when there is an accident or poor driving conditions?
  • If there is an accident, what will insurance cover and could the car’s manufacturer be held liable for damages?
  • Will uploads be available for when road rules change?

Googlecar

As you can see, I don’t believe that all possible repercussions have been considered, and I absolutely cringe at the thought of some punk 16-year-old driving around not possessing any of the requisite skills and having to deal with them as a defensive driver in another lane. So, Mr. Google, Mr. Mercedes-Benz, Mr. NVidia, have your think tanks answered these questions and are you prepared for the potential consequences of this new technology?

What do you think?

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About the Author

Jason Shuffield

Jason Shuffield began working with computers at an early age. As he gained experience he began helping others who had difficulties with technology and requested assistance. Over time it became obvious there was a local need for a technology expert with great people skills. As a result Jason started his computer repair company, CYIN, in 2011. With years of experience in web design, computer repair, tech support, computer training and social media management Jason loves to share his knowledge and educate people.

13 Comments

  1. Interesting article Jason and I’ve often wondered, why have a machine drive a car for you if half the fun is the actual driving?
    I mean, if I had a nice shiny Mustang, I wouldn’t let anyone touch it, let alone a machine, if you know what I mean.

    • Thanks Marc I wanted to get people thinking about this…. I agree if you have a cool car why would you want someone else to drive it. Especially a Mustang 😉

  2. They already have cars that safely park themselves (or park for you). Planes do the bulk of automated flying. Pilots are only required for the take-off and landing (and maybe when there is a glitch). There are fully automated trains, where the human just opens and/or closes the doors.

    Yes, I believe cars will be able to safely take passengers on trips. There is still much to do, to see this happening everywhere, and the cost initially will not be cheap.

  3. That is true that Airplanes and Trains are already doing most the work. Still feel that the security needs to be better on all these before I feel safe to have my car drive for me. I guess I have no choice on the Train and Airplanes. Mindblower, you mentioned the self parking feature cars have now. I would hate to see the day that malfunctions on a teenager who has not been taught how to parallel park ;). I guess if we give it time they will work out most of the bugs to make it safer and cheaper.

    • You can find a flaw in anything. I believe in automation, but humans still require the training – in the just in case – automation fails. Having a car do the driving, does not mean we don’t need to know how to drive. Just ask yourself, how many people can drive a manual (stick shift car), Mindblower!

  4. Not a chance, Way to much room for error. Its bad enough in some places to deal with your average licensed driver that decides to text or talk on the phone or put on makeup in the mirror while trying to drive. I can see a lot of serious accidents coming if this proceeds forward.

  5. Pie in the sky! We live in the real world where snow, ice, mud, and road junk will all affect the sensors needed to make these robots work. And, understand, these are Robots! Robots need to see their surroundings and evaluate a course of action based on the programing supplied. No matter how advanced the programing, computers, and, hardware, it all comes down to those sensors. Cover them with icy slush, mud, or wack them with flying rocks from a passing truck, then what? All that salt ,spread on the roads, might not be to the liking of electrical connections or Radar Electronics. Yet, every article I read about, on these Robot Cars, fails to address the weakness in these sensors. In a perfect world, they sound great. We all live in the real,dirty, slushy world! But, Dream On!

    • You make a good point, that is another issue they will have to figure out. Mother Nature is just something else they will have to deal with. I guess if we did not dream big we would not be where we are today.

  6. Of course it will happen. It’s inevitable. Learn from history – go back a hundred years and all the doubters posting here will see themselves as the naysayers put-off by the concepts of automobiles and airplanes. The technology will persevere.

    • Yep it will happen even if we don’t want it too. Just want some more of the bugs worked out before I ride in one.

  7. Big Booty, at it again!

    Self driving cars, how exciting! The Jetsons are coming to life!

    Tesla is doing much in the way of automated controls and real life testing with their autopilot features. It requires drivers to be driving still and is used more of a safety feature to help avoid collisions. Tesla’s autopilot can control cruise control based on cars in front and around it, merge lanes with a tap of a button and even take turns by itself, though Tesla does not encourage drivers to rely on these features to get them around.

    There’s loads of testing we need, much like all technology, and maybe there needs to always be an option for manual controls in the event of malfunction, but self-driving cars are great news! As we become a more distracted world, congested freeways, fast highway speeds and busy intersections aren’t always the safest place. If we had computers operating 100% of the time, analyzing the scene thousands of times a second, maybe it could be a much safer driving experience! After all, a computer never has to take a call, calm the crying backseat passengers or check out the attractive passerby.

    As far as legal and insurance goes, those are some great mysteries of autonomous vehicles. I love that you address those questions as I hadn’t even thought about insurance! Like with all new technology, we’ll have to learn to grow with it on the legal and insurance side, but it’s a conversation waiting to be had.

    As of right now, we’re entering the beta stages of self-driving cars. It’s an exciting time but you’re right, maybe we should be cautious of the potentially dangerous situations that could occur. Cue some punk 16-year-old snap-chatting his new tattoo behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle.