Here is an article from local blogger Sara S. about the future state of automobiles and the concept of computer controlled driving for individual vehicles.
Robot Cars – Are they the future? In NYC, Hoboken or New Jersey?
The Jetson’s promised us flying cars decades ago and we still haven’t gotten them. So, while we’re waiting, it’s a good thing Google is doing their part for the future of transportation by making and testing autonomous vehicles – or ”robot cars”. It sounds a little crazy, I know, but they really are and soon these “autos” will be cruising along our roads and highways. You will become the passenger and the car will be the driver.
Neat – O
There would be no more need for streetlights. No one would get speeding or parking tickets. We already have cars that can park themselves, but these cars would bring it to a whole new level. We would probably still have parking meters though! Knowing that parking is such an issue in Hoboken for some residents and visitors that do not use mass transit and parking where they wish, can you honestly expect drivers who are accustomed to double parking and standing where they should not to relinquish that option?
Robot cars could take the most congested traffic systems like that in New Jersey and turn it into a streamlined and efficient commute or ride each and every time. These cars have a 360-degree view through radar and GPS technology. They rely on the continuous uploading of detailed images from the vehicle’s immediate surroundings using 3-D laser mapping technology.
Imagine the changes to the traffic jams of cities like New Jersey and NJ car insurance alone and then echo it across the country. States would experience an interesting transition for traffic officers, insurance companies, and lots of other businesses. Think of all the people currently who hold positions as drivers in this country; from buses to semis.
Cops would no longer need to set-up speed traps, there would be no accidents (or at least fewer) with what they say could improve traffic and collision statistics everywhere. But, who knows what new hazards these futuristic automated autos will bring or what the new provisions would be once they were launched on the public across the country?
So far, only Nevada has passed a new robot-friendly law and those laws are only for the purpose of testing automated vehicles; they are not yet available for consumers. Technically however, when they do become available Bryant Walker Smith, a lecturer on legal issues at Stanford University says he has found no laws that directly prohibit them from being used right now.
But, But, But…
Set the “neat-o” factor aside and think about the potential implications of a fully autonomous automobile.
Really think about it. A robot car. What is traffic like where you live at any given time? Can a robot car navigate it? Really? Could there be both robot and manually driven cars sharing the same roads at the same time, or could they only work if everyone had one? Could a programmer be sued if he/she developed a faulty self-driving algorithm?
Will a driver’s license become and operator’s license? Who would ultimately regulate this and what could they potentially do with that power? Would they be able to remotely access and control every vehicle and the grids they are traveling on? Will they be able to turn your car off at any time or re-direct you? What a great way to resolve the oil issue that could be.
Who’s Steering this Bus/Car?
Currently the prototypes have steering wheels and a tap system on the brakes that will allow you to regain control of the vehicle any time you want, but these questions are all worth pondering.
Technology is encroaching on every aspect of our lives. How much control are you willing to give up behind the wheel? Are you willing to give up the wheel entirely?
Editor’s Note: We are perhaps a ways off before this is even an option but Google and other technology firms have already started on this trend so it may be sooner than later. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: