I can see the group of 10 year olds standing at the doors of the mall with their hacked Ipads directing the computers in the cars to collide with each other. Unless and until someone comes up with a computer that cannot be taken over by a bad guy/prankster, I'll settle for dealing with illogical human powered vehicles.
All is well and good until 50 people dump off their cars into a parking lot with 40 spaces (most full). You come back an hour later to find a herd of cars circling endlessly around a full parking lot with near empty gas tanks. Gridlock in the parking lot.
In fact, why even have a parking lot. Just have a big oval track where the car inserts itself with the rest of the idle cars. Since all the cars will communicate with each other (how else would they be able to plot against us?) they can all stop moving until one needs to exit, then move in concert to allow that car to reach the exit point.
In all seriousness, since Nissan programmed the car, will they be responsible for accidents/incidents while the car is driving itself? We are entering a brave new world where causality and responsibility are being blurred. Until the infrastructural, legal, moral, and social frameworks are in place to deal with robots and humans interacting, all of this is merely fantasy.
Computers are cool tools to aid us with mundane task but I rather be in control of my vehicle without the worry of a system malfunction. The key to safe driving is to pay attention to the road. To rely on a computer for driveability is becoming too dependent on technology which makes society lazy and not able to think on their own. A simple example of technology dependency is the TV remote. For alot of folks if their not able to find it the TV is broke as opposed to just turning the channels manually.
I think the new term will be "computer gridlock" as driverless cars will not be able to see beyond the nearest car and see other driver intentions by looking them in the eye or seeing them smile, wave, or flip you the sign.
As a middle age human, the idea of retirement in a self driving RV is really appealing to me. Imagine taking a nap while the RV travels to your next destination. Imagine the RV robotically recharging itself when the batteries are in need. Imagine not having a 70 or 80 year old human driving the RV down the road. That is how I see my retirement in 25 or 30 years. It is an awesome dream, can we make it the reality?
Herein lies the biggest obstacle of autonomous vehicles: Human's inability to come to terms with the fact that we are not better than computers at many tasks. It turns out, that computers are now incredibly good about seeing objects like children and other cars. They (computers) are never distracted like a human, their sensors watch constantly and don't turn away when they are looking for (or at) their cell phone, children, or any other of many distractions that Americans have in their vehicles. Computer systems have reaction times are far better than human reaction times. I only wonder why collision avoidance systems aren't more popular. The technology on the top of the line Prius is where the future needs to go on all automobiles, these systems would solve many of the easy to avoid accidents that are caused by distracted drivers. Granted, it will be some time before cars go completely autonomous, we love to be in control, but systems that prevent distracted driver errors would save the insurance industry huge amounts of money.
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