Humans aren’t the best drivers; we take photos while driving, brake for squirrels, text, speed, weave into the other lane, turn without using our blinkers, eat, doze off, drive with our knees, and run red lights, all while in “control” of our vehicles.
It’s no wonder that someone decided to look into self-driving cars.
According to Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, they’ve taught their cars to navigate through different scenarios on city streets by using their sensors and software to sense objects (cyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, etc.) and are designed to safely drive around them. These cars are able to sense objects and predict what they will do next. The software then chooses a safe speed and trajectory for the car.
You might see one on the road today. Different companies are testing out their self-driving cars on our city and country roads. When will they be available for purchase? According to information compiled on robohub.org, Tesla’s CEO recently announced that the car manufacturer will produce self-driving cars within three years. Nissan plans to have a self-driving car available by 2020, and Google has said it will do so by 2018.
The Google Car has been in two accidents in a total of 700,000 road miles logged, and neither accident could be blamed on the car. The first occurred when a driver rear-ended the Google Car, and the second happened when a human was driving the Google Car on a test run. In contrast, there is one fatality for every 1.13 million miles driven in the United States.
Have you ever been late for work so you decide to drive five miles per hour over the speed limit? When your wife went into labor, did you drive the speed limit to get to the hospital? In certain instances, our ethics and the law diverge, and we have to make a judgment call that makes us break the rules of the road. Should self-driving cars never be allowed to break the law? If self-driving cars faithfully follow laws and regulations, you might not be able to drive over the speed limit, ever. It might refuse to drive you to work in the morning because a headlight is out or because you are low on washer fluid.
Photo credit: Google