Self-driving cars are a thing of the near future as we begin to see sign of fully autonomous vehicle appear within vehicles of today. We know the technology is there, but the question everyone ask is whether it’s safe enough. Would I put my life in the hands of a robot? Would a robot do the right thing when I need it to? Everyone has only one chance – when a vehicle crashes, it might be your last.
There are of course statistics that prove that autonomous vehicles are safer. There are statistics that prove otherwise. I personally have placed my life in the hands of a robot and I know where to stand when a robot comes my way. I would always stand in a way to move out of the way if I have to. The analogy is that lifts use to be semi-autonomous (human in the lift) and now they are fully autonomous. Just press the button and you will be sure you will get there.
Accidents and deaths have plagued transport of every kind in big ways because we need to travel. Either to work or to get food and for holidays. It’s a necessary aspect of life. Is the real solution online shopping? or VR? Should we just stop travelling all together. It’s a game of probability and the size of the sample. The percentage might be small but a small percentage of a large number is still huge.
What do you think? I would still put my live in the hands of an autonomous vehicle but there are users and educated users. My take is that we need to show responsibility and learn to use whatever technology we have today. To not use it is to say I would not cook food because fire is dangerous. Embrace the technology but before each trip, please watch the stewardess in the video explain safety features in the “plane”. Do not ignore here!
Self driving cars have been in the limelight because of Google’s announcements on their autonomous cars on city streets. This isn’t new given that autonomous vehicle technology research has been ongoing for more than 10 years. The direction now is getting the technology on the road, where the rubber hits the road. Google has shown that they have covered the distance on highways. In their latest revelation, Google have their cars on city streets where things can get pretty messy with many cars, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians around the vehicle. They have gain confidence to showcase their work in this arena and this is indeed a great achievement. But before this becomes adopted by the masses, we want to look at the little steps that we have been taking to get there.
One component of autonomous vehicles that interest me is Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Advance Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
ACC normally keeps the car moving at a set speed but intervenes if necessary to avoid keeping too close to the vehicle in front. It takes control of the throttle and the brake of the vehicle but not the steering. ACC is a upgrade to the cruise control of most vehicles. Many have placed their trust on these systems. It says something about how a driver can trust that a collision does not happen when the ACC takes control. This will be applied to Lane Keeping technology in the near future.
There are many other Advance driver assistance systems (ADAS) including, lane departure warning system, collision avoidance system, traffic sign recognition and other systems in development. This is the first stage towards self-driving cars on the road. People need to trust these basic components first before they can let go of the steering wheel. Do we trust cars to drive themselves, given there are human drivers around us. Roads can be a pretty messy place and machines might not be able to react faster than we can.
Self-driving cars are coming. It is a matter of time and they question is are we ready. You can google survey on self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles and you will find that people generally say no but this is a changing view – all thanks to Google! They convince by making it happen, the best way to do it.
WIRED has a recent article about the factory production of the Tesla Model S. The factory is producing around 400 cars a week and the production line is really impressive with the number of robots being used at every stage of production. This is really impressive for a company that started producing cars around 10 years ago. I am really impressed with the amount of automation.
Stanford’s Dynamic Designs Lab and the Volkswagen Electronics Research Lab has collaborated to work on a self-driven Audi TTS. They have managed to allow the self-driving car to hit speeds of up to 120mph.
The Google self-driving car has achieved the distance (300,000 miles) whereas the Stanford-Volkswagen team holds the top speed accolade. But at this speed, the car has not been able to beat professional drivers on the track yet. The team is working hard to tweak the system to hopefully one day beat us