I have anxiety about the movement toward self driving cars. I’ve challenged myself to be forward thinking and familiarize myself with the technology and enhanced safety it promises to bring. I understand that we are becoming an increasingly distracted society and that lives can be saved by introducing safety assistance, but I can’t yet imagine a vehicle without steering wheel or breaks.
When logic and research brought no resolve, I thought back to the day I brought my newborn home from the hospital and asked myself, would I have placed that precious cargo into the hands of a competent adult, or relied upon a complex set of sensors and AI technology to deliver us safely? My instinct was still to trust the human.
But…look at the problem Waymo, Google’s original self driving project, is trying to solve:
And perhaps, we humans need help.
Yesterday, I watched remotely the “Self-Driving Exploration: Past, Present and Future” panel, at the Consumer Technology Association’s CES conference, discuss consumer perceptions of automotive innovations. A representative for Cox Automotive indicated that I represent about 50% of the driving population, with great concerns over safety, liability and cost of self driving vehicles. There is a belief that perceptions will change as we are introduced to advanced driver assistance and become increasingly comfortable with the benefits derived.
For those of us without first hand exposure to a self driving vehicle, how can we remain open-minded? By continuing to educate ourselves and understand what’s coming. Waymo is helping us do that. Recently added to Research & Trends, is a colorful and informative, easy to read report produced by Waymo, On the Road to Fully Self Driving. Take it for a quick spin and see how you feel.
I agree that the safety problems Waymo is trying to solve need to be addressed. While I still prefer to see us embrace greater responsibility to solve them, it just may require the collaboration of technology, and a better form of ourselves, to brings future safety to the roads.
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