Are Autonomous Cars Safe?
by josh_cifelli5817 on October 28, 2016 - 11:50pm
Are self-driving cars the future of driving and safe? Hopefully because that would save me so much time! Although a lot of people are very worried about the risks for very good reasons. Some risks include weather, unpredictable humans, face to face interactions (like at a four way stop), urban areas/bridges, and unclear road markings (according to Danielle Muoio from business insider). These are very important issues although some of them are already fixed or are almost fixed. As far as weather goes, that is hard to fix but just because you have to drive it sometimes when it gets bad out does not make it any less better, these are just prototypes and they are doing very well. If the car has a problem like with weather or if it does not know where it is it will pull over and stop until you take control so it is not like it is going to be going into fields because it lost sight of the road. For the face to face interactions google simply makes the car inch forward into the lane to assert who gets the right of way, if the other car starts to go then it will stop. Urban areas are being solved by the use of sensors, where the cars used to be more GPS dependent, they are really only using it as back up checking and navigation now so it will not be much of a problem in urban environments. For bridges you could have the driver take control for now or I’m sure they will come up with a way to sense things. Unclear road markings is a simple fix, more redoing the lines. We don’t because it’s a waste of time because people can just see the sides of the road, since a lot of main roads already have pretty visible markings it should not be too much of a problem. It should not be long before these cars are going to be getting on the road, out of 2 billion miles Google’s autonomous car crashed once in February because of the autonomous control, which is already better than most humans. It crashed because it sensed a bus in the left line while it was going into that lane, it assumed the bus was going to slow down but the bus did not and they hit each other. It is hard to say if that accident could have been avoided if there was a human in the front seat but the sensors don’t drink or eat or text or get dressed while driving so how many accidents did it prevent for all those other miles? In this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsaES--OTzM) uploaded by “Google Self-Driving Car Project” you can see how the car senses things and to what extent it senses things. The car can tell the difference of pedestrians and bikers and different car types like trucks or cars, it is programmed to give trucks extra room when passing from a different lane which is pretty exact. Now I’ll talk about the hardest subject and the reason car companies hesitate to put these cars on the road, unpredictable humans. The problem is what happens if a kid jumps out in front of the car, the car might have to choose between swerving and hitting other things or hitting the kid instead. Everyone’s opinion and reaction are different on this matter and although the car might react faster and cause a better survival rate, it is hard to program basically who is going to die in a no win scenario. Also, because the car is now making the decision, it is now the car companies fault for hitting the kid instead of the driver which could cause HUGE lawsuits even if the amount of deaths go down drastically. This is why companies are hesitant to be the first to sell an autonomous car, they want someone else to “test the playing field” first. I’m hoping this issue gets solved like personally chosen parameters for how the car will act (obviously chosen from the car company, not making up the parameters) that way the car owner is still responsible, even if it is just an accident we all know there are people who will be “sue happy” after an accident, especially if they saw their kid die which can be understandable even if it is wrong.