Tech & The Web

Google Makes ‘Safer’ Car

Leave it to the company that helps people find answers to an incalculable number of questions every day to find the answer to making roads safer.

The only problem is that their solution to the problem involves removing the driver from the equation. Not that much of a surprise when you think about it, is it?

That’s right: Google’s self-driving car, after 300,000 miles of test drives, emerged with no accidents while the robotic driver was in control of things. Google equipped Toyota Priuses (or should that be Prii?) with cameras, radar sensors and laser rangefinders to help it “see” what a human driver would. Google Maps helps the car figure out the right path.

The only time there has been an accident so far is when a human passenger took control from the automation.

Gotta love the irony.

There are times when I’m making a drive from one part of town to another or when I’m behind the wheel for more than an hour that I’d love to be able to let the car do the work so that I could focus on other things: this blog, for one. Can you imagine blogging from the driver’s seat while the car is driving you where you need to go?

I suspect that at some point, we’ll reach a point where we’ll get into our automobile, tell it where we want to go, and sit back and enjoy the ride while it gets us there. It’ll probably be another ten years or so before it’s a practical reality, if then. But I’m sure that one day, it’ll happen.

It’ll probably mean that the commute will take a little longer, because the computers will surely have to obey the speed limit. But on the other hand, if the car can get you there with a better chance of avoiding an accident, it might just be worth it.

Your Turn:

Would you trust a car that would drive itself? Could you ever imagine yourself “letting go” of control if you had a reasonable expectation that the car’s automation was a safe alternative to driving yourself?

8 Comments

  1. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable letting go of the control, but I’d certainly feel safer if other drivers did. I see people daily who are texting or blathering on the phone while driving; in terms of safe driving, a computer could certainly do no worse a job.

    1.  @msalakka Definitely agree on the “other drivers” part. I’d feel safer with ME in control of MY car, but robots in control of some of the people I have to share the road with every day. Three different people tried to become “one” with my car at different points today. It’s scary how few actually pay attention when they pull out into traffic!

    2.  @msalakka Definitely agree on the “other drivers” part. I’d feel safer with ME in control of MY car, but robots in control of some of the people I have to share the road with every day. Three different people tried to become “one” with my car at different points today. It’s scary how few actually pay attention when they pull out into traffic!

  2. I think – once I was sure that it worked correctly – I’d be happy to allow the car to do the driving. Just think of all you could do while you were on your way from one place to another! 

  3. I think – once I was sure that it worked correctly – I’d be happy to allow the car to do the driving. Just think of all you could do while you were on your way from one place to another! 

  4. I would totally give it a whirl … as long as I could take control at any moment.  And for those of us facing congestion everyday, I think if all (or even most) cars were hooked up, the efficiency factor might actually decrease the commute.  The accordion effect would be a think of the past and lane changes for exiting would be choreographed.
     
    But, it does scare to think of a future where the machines do control too much.  Google = Skynet.  It’s true, we all know it … lol.

    1.  @frail_liberty I think the idea is that the human can always take control whenever he deems necessary; oddly, though, it’s when the human has been in control that they’ve reported any “incidents.”
       
      This does lead me to wonder whether there might be some change in the control mechanism to make it easier for the computer that might, as a side effect, make it a little harder for the person!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.