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Getting Use to Driverless Cars

Updated on July 8, 2013

In the past 15 years, we have, as a society, have had to accept new things in our world. In the future, the very near future (say, 2020+) there will be driver and driverless cars going about their business. It will be a HUGE hurdle to accept and trust for society. Of course, the standard question is the why? Why have a car that drives itself with a human passenger? Yes, I know technologically it is a milestone, but will it actually, really work as good as a human driver in urban traffic, say like LA or NYC?

Yes, I see a need for it when driving on the long trips on the Interstate where the roads require little turning. Truckers would really like them. Will human drivers try to outsmart the driverless cars? What happens in an accident and there are no witnesses, just the human driver and, um, the car with no driver? Can a driverless car travel without any occupants? That would really odd to see, but I can see a purpose for it. What will occur when criminals manipulate them or hack them, will there be car chases?

Already, California, Nevada and Florida have made it legal to operate driverless cars on public roads- two years ago! According to Google, the main proponent for them, has driven them 435,000 miles in cities and highways without one accident. Really? Not even a minor fender bender? What conditions were they driven, how? Naturally, Google is going to say this but are there any independent studies? Hmmm, I thought not.

Of course, you cannot yet buy one. They cannot be sold. There is a natural fear about them, just as there was in 1897 with a Horseless Carriage, now called a "car". Back then, having a carriage without a horse pulling it seemed very odd and most drivers were scared. Take this eyewitness from an old magazine called, The Horseless Carriage:

"There is a sense of incompleteness about it. you seemed to be sitting on the end of a huge pushcart, propelled by an invisible force and guided by a hidden hand. There is also a seeming brazeness to the whole performance. Initially, the people along Fifth Avenue cheered me on going down the street, but that gradually stopped. It seemed odd not having a horse in front but as I continued, the fear of not having a horse stopped. I no longer needed a horse in front of me".

Eventually, everyone got use to the idea that a horse was now replaced with a motor with horsepower in front for protection. Driverless cars are actually more advanced in Europe because there is less resistance to them. A Ford Focus can drive itself in steady traffic and keep a safe distance from others. Volvo offers cars that can parallel park by themselves after the driver gets out (now, I could use that!). Audi is working on a traffic jam feature for cars to drive themselves in traffic up to 40 mph.

The argument for them is that each year one million are killed in car accidents. I find it impossible to believe that no humans will be driving their own hot cars. Driving a car is much than getting from A to B. For many, it is an extension of their personality to drive them, especially sport cars. Then, there are liability issues and new laws for driverless cars.

Yes, driverless cars are coming, driven by computers. How boring.

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