Over fifty years ago, the Jetson family was introduced to the American people. Travel was done by space ships and a robot named Rosie helped with the household chores. The futuristic utopia seemed efficient and proficient with the help of gadgets and inventions. Nowadays, new inventions and gadgets are highly sought after—especially when it makes life easier. One of these “Jetson” like inventions is that of the Robot Cars.
Manufacturers from Tesla to BMW to Google are all joining the “robotic car” world to allow drivers to sit back and allow a machine run their vehicle for them. Of all the manufacturers who are building these prototypes, it seems as though Google has been the front runner in this new brand of vehicle. Google started testing robotic cars on public highways back in 2014 and since that time; all accidents were due to the human being driving the other vehicle. However, just recently one of the prototypes caused a crash and people are taking notice.
The car accident happened when the stopped prototype accelerated its way into traffic and struck a public bus. The negative impact this had on the prototype hasn’t slowed Google’s efforts to have autonomous vehicles on the road with human controlled vehicles.
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Even more recently, the state of California has issued regulations that all robotic cars need to have a back-up human driver in the event of an emergency. This regulation is putting a damper on what Google was hoping to achieve with the prototype cars (no human inside) sharing the road with vehicles who are operated by a human. Road sharing must be tested and it becomes hard to achieve if regulations are stalling the process for autonomous vehicles.
Google has stated that in order for robotic cars to be successful, they need to be allowed on the road and gain further experience. The article states, “The Google car involved in the latest crash — a modified Lexus sedan — was, ironically, programmed to think more like human drivers. That’s more difficult than it might, at first, seem. And part of the problem is that robot cars will have trouble communicating with not only human drivers, but also the pedestrians and bicyclists with whom they share the road.”
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has advocated in favor of the autonomous driving programs as they believe the technology could eliminate the crashes that kill over 30,000 Americans each year—1.2 million people worldwide. Furthermore, it is important to note that over 90 percent (90%) of fatal car crashes are because of human error.
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Therefore, whether you are wishing for a robotic maid or self-driving vehicle, it is important to take notice of the research and strides the manufacturers have made on this subject. Although we may not see robotic cars for another ten (10) years, the debate of whether these types of vehicles should be on our roadways bring up a good discussion.
The questions going forward will be, could you give up complete control of your vehicle?
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