Driverless Cars: What's Holding Back the Automobile of the Future?
As convenient as cars are, each and every one of us has gotten frustrated at the unbearably slow driver in the left lane or the rude driver who refuses to drive any farther than two feet away from your rear bumper. Unsafe driving practices such as these cause traffic jams, accidents, and deaths every single day on our roads and highways. And what is the root cause behind all of these issues? Humans.
Google, the company behind some of the most influential technological innovations of the past decade, is committed to creating the safest, most practical, eco friendly car of the future: the driverless car. In his 2010 TEDtalk entitled "Rethinking the Automobile," Sebastian Thrun, head of Google's Driverless Cars project, describes a world where computer-driven cars actively reduce emissions, decongest traffic, save money on gas, and most importantly, save lives. The project, using the eco friendly Prius, has advanced to a point where on the road tests are successfully taking place (accident-free too), but there is room for debate on how feasible these cars actually are in real life.
The inherent problem with driverless cars is that they have to interact, and react, to human-driven cars presently on the roadway. How can a driverless car replace sheer human intuition and react to the ever-changing environment on our roadways? Moreover, can Google create a system that eliminates any chance for a driverless car to get into an accident? Needless to say, the courts will also have a lot on their plates if, and when, this technology comes into fruition. Will all of the blame be placed on actual drivers in the case of an accident with a driverless car, or will faulty technology end up being the scapegoat in some cases?
The benefits of functional driverless cars are abundant, but the reality is that Google, as well as those who govern our roadways, have a long way to go before we can abandon the control of driving cars ourselves and let computers take the wheel.