Everyone knows that technology is "in", and cars that drive themselves aren't such an impossible idea anymore. In fact, they already exist: Cruise Automation has developed a car that will autopilot your car on the highway. We've all heard of self parking cars; according to a new study done by the AAA, they're even better at it than we are. Now we all know this is good; technological advancement is never a bad thing. There are many advantages to having a self-driving car, but safety is by far the most important factor. The question is... how safe is it?
Matthew Inman, creator of the popular comic website The Oatmeal got a chance to try out one of Google's self-driving cars, as well as a chat with some of the engineers working on it as well. The amount of work and technology put into these cars is pretty amazing.
"The cars use a mixture of 3D laser-mapping, GPS, and radar to analyze and interpret their surroundings, and the latest versions are fully electric with a range of about 100 miles. The radar is interesting because it allows the car to see through objects, rather than relying on line-of-sight. At one point during our drive the car recognized and halted for a cyclist who was concealed behind a row of hedges."
- Matthew Inman
Inman talks about just how sensitive the car is to maintaining the safety of, not only its passengers, but of the everyone in it's area as well. He mentions a scenario where the car was to make a right turn, but when traffic cleared up the car refused to move because there was a pedestrian close to the curb, hesitating to cross. The Oatmeal took a comedic approach to explain this situation, but explains it quite well with personification of the Google car.
The concerns that come along with the self driving car is not when it will arrive or how much it will cost the average person. It will be a debate on how much control will the car have? Fully automated cars seem like the best thing to happen to transportation technology in a long time, but if there is a need, will we be able to override it? If there is an option to override the car, there is still the concern of people taking advantage of this. Road rage and impatience, possibly leading to dangerous maneuvers, is not something that is new to commuters in any city.
With Google, Apple, Nissan, and many other big names in the automotive and technology industries working on self-driving cars, there is definitely a lot of attention focused on these up and coming automotive creations. Most companies are planning for releases starting in 2019; Not that far away at all. Will we be able to find the balance between automation and human control?