Driverless Cars Are Here – Can we trust them?

 

This is the year 2012. The year of dreams turn reality. Driverless cars are with us thanks to Google and other manufacturers like Audi, Volvo, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and General Motors. But first, let me tell you a story.
I was behind the wheels driving my daddy’s old Tanus car back in the  ’60s when a car overtook me, leveled up with me briefly, then sped past. Nothing wrong with this scenario except that I was just about 10 years old, the car that just passed me had no driver behind the wheels, and I was in a dream. Needless to say, I woke up shivering, covered in sweats, and extremely afraid. I had seen a GHOST CAR. That was my thought. Since then I had had  series of dreams of like nature and have pondered on the idea of a driverless car.
As i mentioned above, this is year 2012 and i am now an adult. The year of dreams turn reality. Just last week, the governor of California State in the U.S. rode in one of such cars to Google office where he signed into law the bill allowing driverless cars operate on California roads. Governor Jerry Brown said: “Today, we’re looking at science-fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality”. He went on to say what is on the mind of many people “Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car driving will be a little skittish” but he was quick to add that the person will get over it. More on this bill signing ceremony on BBC Technology News.

Courtesy BBC Technology News

Google has been testing and perfecting a fleet of autonomous computer controlled vehicles for several years and are confident that the cars will eventually replace human driven vehicles in the near future. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin says these cars will be far safer than human driven cars. He further states that self driving cars would dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone.

 

It is a known fact that human errors are responsible for up to 90% of all vehicle accidents. So it is logical to assume that removing humans from equation will usher in better and safer driving. Google has logged over 300,000 miles with its fleet of driverless vehicles with no accident except one case during which one of the vehicles was on manual drive.

A YouTube video of working prototype of such cars can be viewed here

Technical aspects aside, there are many factors that go into driving. There is the legal and legislative concern, there is the economic concern, the safety issues, and of course, the human psychology and trade unionism.
The Californian legislative model provides that a human must always be in the vehicle to take manual control and make decisions as needed. But is this really necessary? Is this not a reflection of our inability to completely trust automation? An innate need to always want to be in control? Or a fear of domination by computers?


What would the Drivers Union or Association feel about this? A threat to their livelihood?
How about the professional Race Drivers? The formula One Race. Will computer driven cars be allowed to compete?
Will you as a parent allow autonomous computer controlled cars to do your school runs for you?

Naturally, one is bound to ask the questions and more.
Which is really safer, computer controlled or human controlled cars? Which is better? Which one can you trust? Can we trust our lives into the “hands” of these automated contraptions?

 

 

4 comments for “Driverless Cars Are Here – Can we trust them?

  1. October 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Watch this pin BBC last week.

    Its was as exciting as it was spooky.

    Hmm. such cars are not for these parts, I beg!

    but I would imagine they are probably safer than cars driven by humans, by a long shot!

  2. Harry Echemco
    October 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    It is a known fact that human errors are responsible for up to 90% of all vehicle accidents. So it is logical to assume that removing humans from equation will usher in better and safer driving.

    That’s right when the error in question is from the man behind the wheel. What if the error is to come from other users of the road like pedestrians, livestock etc and other unforeseen circumstances?

    Can we truly trust machine driven cars to take the best decision when there is say oil spillage on the road? I don’t think so. Meanwhile, let’s watch and see this new technology become part of us like the others: Radio, TV, Phone, computers and Internet etc.

  3. Steve
    October 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Hmmm……..

    A fear my head o! Even in developed countries, how many people will trust their lives int the “hands” of these automations? I believe it will take time before humans start to trust machines to such an extent.

    Theire is more to driving than moving a car and avoiding accidents. How about the thrill you get when you are behind the wheels? What do we think is the motivation for people doing crazy stunts with their vehicles? Can all these be replaced/duplicated by automations?

    Then the natural fear of machines taking over the world step by step is ever looming. Beware lest we become the type of future we see in Terminator films.

  4. Eye_Bee_Kay
    October 2, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I am.ashamed.to admit this, but I would feel a tad anxious having a car zooming at 160km/hour, with me relying just on the cars brainbox to take life and death decisions for me.

    I would certainly not risk my life particularly if our mechanics here are the ones maintaining the cars and.have used a set of decayed teeth to strip some wires, causing a short circuit on Third Mainland Bridge

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