Self-driving cars are much closer to being on roads than some people realize. Most folks are aware by now that the technology for self-driving cars exists, and even that autonomous vehicles are on roads in small numbers for tests and trials. Google has been working on autonomous vehicles since 2009, and their self-driving cars have logged over 1.5 million self-driving miles. Tesla continues to improve its Autopilot self-driving technology. Ford wants self-driving vehicles available to consumers within the next 5 years. And of course, Uber rolled out automated transportation services in Pittsburgh earlier this month. Soon, however, self-driving vehicles will cease to be side projects, tests, and lab experiments, and instead find a place in our own garages.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) issues a policy on automated vehicles
The Department of Transportation recently released guidelines for self-driving cars. The Federal Automated Vehicles Policy describes self-driving vehicles as the “archetype of our future transportation”. It addresses issues such as
- Will automated vehicles completely replace human drivers?
- How should self-driving vehicles make ethical judgements?
- Will they disrupt privacy and security?
- What about the socioeconomic impacts of autonomous vehicles?
Needless to say, these are all important questions to consider, and it’s better to determine a policy that will shape self-driving vehicle technology sooner rather than later.
Not everyone is ready for automated transportation
While most completely trust automation on factory floors, many are still wary of autonomous vehicles. In many ways, the technology is advancing faster than the acceptance of the technology.
One of the reasons why people are hesitant to accept self-driving vehicles is that it’s still so new. The idea of an automated system controlling your car is something from science fiction. We are supposed to keep our hands at 9 and 3 while the car is in motion, not napping or reading the newspaper.
Some people still think autonomous vehicles are unsafe. They see a headline that says a self-driving car was in an accident with a human driver, which leads them to believe that automated vehicles are unsafe. So far, Google self-driving cars have covered over 1.5 million self-driven miles, and have been responsible for only one traffic accident.
The average American drives 13,476 miles in a year. This means that if you get your driver’s license at age 16, drive around for the next 111 or so years, and manage to only be responsible for a single traffic accident, you can claim to be as good a driver as Google’s self-driving cars.
Of course, some people just don’t like the idea of not having control, despite the fact that machines are less prone to error than humans. We’re fine with robots in factories, but we don’t want robots driving us to work.