Posted By Raj Singh on 12/19/2017 in Technology

Driverless cars are on the way. Should we be worried?

Driverless cars are on the way. Should we be worried?

As early as 2015, major car makers including Tesla, BMW and tech giants such as Google were hinting at developing driverless cars and ultimately changing the face of everyday transportation. Most of them set nearby deadlines too – Google and Toyota chose 2020 while Tesla promised its driverless technology as early as 2018 – for these changes to take place.

Fast forward to 2017 and major developments are clear for all to see. Companies such as Google and Tesla are already testing out early prototypes of their driverless cars on roads in American cities such as California and Pittsburgh while the American carmaker Ford is already trying out snow covered roads. If anything, driverless cars are no longer just some tech whizz’s pipe dream. They are here, and we won’t be avoiding them for much longer.

"An autonomous car and unmanned ground vehicle is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input." says Wikipedia

Driverless cars have generated a great deal of discussion among experts and car lovers alike on issues such as their relevance, their abilities, their effect on the environment and more. They’ve come out on top for the most part, thanks to their presumed ability to minimize accidents by a large percentage and their low impact on environmental pollution.

But despite their interesting technology and expected benefits, self-driving cars still excite a sense of doubt among many people. Just like it was with drones, the public should be worried about how safe driverless cars are going to be. 

The below movie shows proprietary Bosch technology. The Tesla vehicle is solely chosen as carrier for demonstration purposes.

For starters, driverless cars will still lack human judgement despite being made of highly intuitive technology. Results from current test drives so far show that even though they’re nearly ready for road use, most of the cars have not yet been developed enough to make quick decisions in emergency or sudden situations.

The recent revelation by some major car makers that their driverless cars will feature no steering wheel is another point to ponder over. Up until now, the steering wheel has been the driver’s limit of control for their car. Having no steering wheel at all sounds perfect if you are going to finish office business during the ride anyway, but not if you are driving through a crowded street at Halloween. Being as automated as they are, driverless cars may not be able to steer you out of trouble, instead leaving you to their mercy.

"Driverless cars are set to change our whole social structure and impact the future of many, or even all, aspects of engineering." says a news post on The Engineer

One other major issue has constantly ignited critical interest on driverless cars. Their safety in today’s world of international hacking fiascos and privacy infringements. Since the cars might be designed to collect their drivers’ personal data over time, doesn’t that make them ideal for hacking? If that isn’t worrying enough, how about the fact that traffic on city roads is going to worsen because driverless cars will entice everyone to step out? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. And anyway, driverless cars are bound to be quite pricey at first, considering their technology and design.

All this sounds like reason to worry. But there’s an upside to all this. Since the design and testing process is still in high gear for most, changes to design and software are always being made. There’s been reports that driverless cars will come with touchpad control panels instead of steering wheels, which sounds like a smart option. The US and Canada are already gearing up for this new technology and working out how it can be implemented safely.

So, yes, the public has every right to worry, but they shouldn’t dwell on it so much. Driverless cars are coming, and we will have to adapt to them.

Pic Courtesy: NDTV