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Questions for Self Driving Cars Proponents

Updated on May 15, 2017

Introduction

The idea of a self driving car is being pushed on the American public. Early testing have begun by Google and others. Before I give up the keys to my car, I have a few questions that needs to be answered.

- July 2016

Background

From what I read and learned about this initiative, it is being sold as an improvement on safety foremost and also to help with congestion. Let me begin by stating the obvious. Any system that will be implemented must be able to deal with the reality of transitioning from a people driven environment to a mixed environment to finally arrive at a totally autonomous environment. Some of the issues that I raise may only apply to the mixed environment but never the less important to address. I agree that is probably the harder problem to solve but necessary.

I have driven most of my life and in various situations. I live in the suburbs of NYC and have experienced traffic jams and pot holes. I've also driven in snow and ice storms. The problems I see is not with the day to day driving excursions but the unusual and odd cases that crops up occasionally. The issues I raise are real life examples which I have personally experienced. In fact, many of the near misses are not even accounted because it was avoided by an intelligent and experienced driver behind the wheel. This occurs on a daily basis and I often wonder what would happen if a machine or program has to deal with them. Will it be handled as smoothly or seamlessly?

Some questions...

  1. A most common issue I run into is when driving with the GPS guiding my way. I love the GPS assistance and wondered how did we ever lived without them. It takes us to our destination turn by turn and even estimate the arrival time based on traffic conditions. Once in a while, a problem occurs when a road that I am on is closed temporarily or due to some major accident or repair. In this case, I've learned how to get around the obstruction by turning off this road and driving a few miles away from the blocked road before allowing the GPS to guide me. The reason is the GPS does not know the road ahead was blocked. It will recalculate the path back to the original road that I was on. The way to defeat it is to ignore the direction at first and keep driving away from the obstruction until a new path is computed that avoids that road all together. My question is this. With an autonomous car, using the GPS as it's guide, how will it deal with this simple scenario? There are two parts to this question. First, how will the car know when the road is closed ahead? and second, how will it get around this obstruction by itself?
  2. How will autonomous car deal with a pothole? In NYC during the winter months, there are many potholes that crop up daily on the streets. In many cases, as an experienced driver, I learn to maneuver around them to avoid serious damage to my tires or suspension. The most common is when a pothole is located right in the path of one of my wheels. When I see them, I would just simply turn and swerve around it to avoid hitting it right on. This would involve crossing over to another lane briefly and of course avoiding any other cars on the same road. Will an autonomous car be able to do the same?
  3. What about mirrors and reflectors? Most sensors depends on the fact that objects reflect a signal to the source so that they can be detected. I can envision some objects under certain circumstances where they can cause the sensor to fail or misread the situation. The human eye along with our brain can do a good job of interpreting these situations and make the necessary correction or adjustment. How can a self driving car do the same?
  4. What about potential for hackers to disable or cause harm while autonomous vehicles is in motion? The latest ransomware across the globe demonstrate a vulnerability that our computer networks are all susceptible. What can we do to prevent such attacks if we can't do so today? when a computer is locked, the worst that can happen is you lost your data. When a car is crippled, people's lives are at stake.

Summary

I am a big skeptic when it comes to total autonomous driving cars. I just don't see the technology being good enough to handle all situations as yet...

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    • lindaspeaks profile image

      Linda Tucker 7 months ago from Bay Point

      Today it is also recommended that people should make sure their dogs are safely seated in the car while they are driving because if the dog is jumping around it can distract them and could cause them to have a car accident.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 7 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Linda, thanks for reading my hub and welcome to HubPages. I see that you are new to this. It is a great community of writers and thinkers. You will have a lot of fun and contemplate big things...

    • lindaspeaks profile image

      Linda Tucker 7 months ago from Bay Point

      I also agree with you because people drive today like they own the streets. They get in front of you without putting their blinkers on and when you are in the fast lane a drive rushes in front of you and slows down almost causing you to have an accident.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Old poolman, I'm with you. I think I want to be in control at all times. I have no problem with driving assist features, just not total autonomous in open roads.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 17 months ago

      Jack - Old habits are hard to break and I doubt I will ever give up the steering wheel.

      But with that being said, I live near two very large retirement communities. The parking lots at the nearby shopping centers sometimes resembles a demolition derby.

      I find with GPS that I often know a faster and better route to take here in town, but in cities I am not familiar with it is a true blessing.