Are Self Driving Cars Ready for the Real World?
Editor's Note: Ivan F. ('18) wrote this paper on the danger of Google's driverless cars for his advanced chemistry class.
Self-driving cars seem like the future of transportation, but when I came across an article called “Driverless Cars Are Too Polite,” I wondered how ready the technology was for real world applications. The article is about how the new driverless cars by Google may be too safe for driving on roads dominated by unsafe human drivers. According to the article, the Google cars have been in 16 accidents since 2009. While none of the accidents were very serious, they were all by fault of the human driver. The reason the car is deemed too safe is because it is programmed to follow the laws precisely, but it is sharing the road with human drivers who do not always drive by the same logic. Matt Richtel says that the car has to, “learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture.” Even though the car is self driving and follows the laws, it must think like a human in order to survive on the streets.
It is amazing to think that technology has advanced so far as to be able to create an autonomous car, but just how ready is it? When I first heard that Google was making a self driving car, I was skeptical about how safe and realistic this idea could be. I wondered how this car would cope to the accident-prone, real world. I learned that the technology worked, but was still evolving, and it was surprising that one of the flaws in the car was the it was too safe. In a hypothetical world where there are only driverless cars, I think that the current version would work fine. However, when designing a car for roads dominated by human drivers, one must take into account the reality of the road: unsafe drivers.
In just a few years, people will get used to autonomous cars, and it will become part of normal life. It is interesting how this technology could change our way of life, but how will driverless cars be used, and what does it mean for the future of transportation? Will standard cars become obsolete, and will traffic jams and parking problems be a thing of the past? There are still issues with the technology, but I think they have a good chance of succeeding in this world to provide efficient and safe travel. There is a long way to go before they completely replace humans, but it is a good change for the future to make our lives easier.
This technology will have many other real-world applications such as making machines servants to make our lives easier, but it needs to be further refined. It will take humans out of the equation, and since computers make fewer mistakes than humans, it will probably be safer to travel. One of the questions that arise if we plan to rely on computer intelligence is, what happens when the reliance is so strong? Will actual human ability diminish? If we are always relying on computers to do things, what happens if they fail? Another issue is, since the cars are computerized, they can be hacked. If someone hacks the system and is able to control all of the cars, it would put many people in danger and would make it scary to drive thinking that someone could take over control if your car without you knowing.
I hope that the technology does work out, but it is a little scary that a machine could be controlling where people went without human input. It will be interesting to see how society accepts it and how the car adapts to society. I hope all the issues are resolved and I am excited to see what the final product is and how it transforms the way we think of cars. I am looking forward to sitting in one in the near future.