Self Driving Cars — Not So Fast


Self Driving Cars — Not So Fast

The Parking Industry has been a tad panicked over driverless cars.  OMG –  Once they take over, there will be no need for onstreet parking, certainly much fewer off street spaces (With Lyft and Uber leading the way.) and who knows what other disasters are lurking around their software driven innards.

Stephen Hill, writing at the Observer, has given us a reality check. To wit:

Despite how much Uber CEO Travis Kalanick likes to crow about our “driverless future,” outside of The Jetsons this one is…not…happening…soon. Besides the remaining technological challenges, the liability and regulatory issues involved in letting a 3,000-pound death machine steer itself with no human at the controls are huge.

You can read the entire article here.

He goes on:

Not surprisingly, a survey by IEEE, a technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, of more than 200 experts in the field of autonomous vehicles found that of six possible roadblocks to the mass adoption of driverless vehicles, the three biggest obstacles are legal liability, policymakers and consumer acceptance. Cost, infrastructure and technology were seen as the least of the problems.  

Consider the questions the insurance companies must ask. In the event of an accident who is to blame? The vehicles owner? He wasn’t driving. The manufacturer?  The company that wrote the software? What company is going to take on that kind of risk? All it takes is a tiny software bug and BAM, you have bought the farm.

Consider the fact that when we drive we make thousands of little decisions each trip. Most are unconscious, but some brush up against the law, and even break it. What about driving over a double yellow line to go around a double parked UPS truck? How many times have you broken that little law and done so in perfect safety?

Who is going to accept responsibly for a self driving vehicle that was programmed to break the law? Is the car just going to sit there while UPS decides which package goes where? Let your mind wander.  There are tons of situations where we make perfectly reasonable decisions to break driving laws. Can a self driving vehicle do that?

Audi says totally self driving cars are 20-30 years away. Most predict that they will be most reliable on interstates and most likely be self driving semi’s.  I’m sure the Teamsters will have something to say about that.

The devil is in the details. And the details surrounding self driving vehicles go far beyond the technology issues. The press, Elon Musk, Google, Uber, and BMW may think they are on the cusp, but those pesky details will slow this giant leap for mankind


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John Van Horn

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