Self Driving Cars – Wave Of The Future

selfdrivingcarThere has been a lot of skepticism regarding the new developments of self driving cars.  It’s hard to say when and if the public will embrace this technological change.  However it remains to be seen if engineers can actually make it happen in the first place.  News reports often pop up about how the Google version of the self driving car keeps getting into accidents.  Well, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the populace as far as safety and trusting your life to one of these things.

And another thing…do we actually WANT self driving cars?  Isn’t driving a car kind of…fun?  I myself might like a self driving car on occasion, however sometimes it’s nice to just drive along country roads and listen to music.  It’s a kind of zen that’s not available as much in this technological hustle and bustle age anymore.

In another funny news story that happened recently, for the first time ever one of Google’s self driving cars actually got pulled over by police. The reason?  It was going too slow and traffic was backing up behind it.  However, since there was no driver there was nobody to ticket.

In the end there was no ticket issued, leaving the car’s driving record perfect.

“After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed!” the car project posted.

I suppose that is certainly a milestone.  But what do people actually think about this project in the first place?  The writer of the popular blog “The Oatmeal” rode in one of the self driving cars and described it as being a rather timid drivers that drive very slow and cautiously.  He also said they are very cute, and look like little marshmallows with faces.  Apparently Google did this on purpose in order to disarm other drivers – humans are less likely to get mad at or destroy inanimate objects if they resemble living things.  They are pretty darn cute.

An interesting question that I came across was how to program the cars to make ethical decisions in the event of an unavoidable accident.  Say a cyclist rides in front of the car.  Does the car veer into the guardrail to avoid the cyclist?  Or does it protect the rider at all costs?  Will the car always make the decision to minimize total loss of life?  It’s a tough call and one that I wouldn’t want to have to deal with.

Some people welcome the advent of self-driving cars with open arms, but others are a bit more skeptical.  Still, it would be a slow change, and would definitely not happen overnight.  We do stand to gain a lot, however; cars are dangerous and kill over a million people worldwide per year.  That’s a very high number.

Another version of the self driving car is the Tesla autopilot, which I find surprising in its legality but is reportedly rather decent at navigating the roads (as long as there are road markings).

What do you think about the future of self driving cars?  Would you trust one yet?  Are you looking forward to seeing them on the roads near you?