Let the Robots Take the Wheel
It is no longer a matter of “if”, but “when”. According to this Wired article, manufacturers and federal regulatory commissions are expecting vehicles that are, in part, self-controlling to hit the market in two years. TWO. YEARS. Humanity is finally catching up with our dreams to live in a Jetson’s-like world.
Please, bear with these posts about self-driving cars, because I think they are important to us as cyclists. Personally, I’m about to sell my car off and revert back to bike only living…again, and so the efforts to change automobile transportation seem even MORE important to me now. We, as cyclists, know better than most that people SUCK at driving, to tragic ends, so any technology that takes the operation out of human hands and puts it into a predictable and pre-established technology gives me great hope for the safety of more vulnerable (that’s us) road users. Although I’m often skeptical of rapid technological advances, I think we need this right now, especially with the rapid advance of social media technology and the impetus for drivers to TEXT ALL THE TIME. I’m now more afraid of texting drivers than I am drunk drivers, because I see them ALL THE TIME, and the LAST way I want to die is from some inattentative driver telling the world what they just had for lunch.
As the article details, manufacturers are experimenting with various levels of self-driving cars where drivers have more and less interaction with the vehicle. The TOTALLY automated car is still a ways off and poses the greatest legal/moral challenges, but cars that slowly take away the decision making and safety corrections of the driver are closer and closer to implementation. I know people freak out over the loss of human control to robotic control, but considering how inherently destructive car operation is, the support of this self-driving technology is a risk I’m willing to take.