Driverless cars: Too many questions left unanswered

Driverless cars; seems sort of like an oxymoron if you ask me. While the idea seems far-fetched at first, it’s actually more plausible than we think. With the 21st century comes 21st century technology. Most things are advancing and in many cases becoming automated, so why should cars be any different? The safety designs, navigation systems, and backup features of cars have all fallen subject to upgrades and facelifts, so why not the principle idea of moving from one place to another? Why not try to invent driverless cars?

Companies like Audi, Nissan, BMW, Google and newcomer Delphi have all been working on their own technologies, which is predicted to increase the commonality of these types of cars. The most recent notable feat was Delphi and their modified blue 2014 Audi SQ5 that traveled over 3,400 miles from San Francisco to New York City doing 99% of the driving on its own. Spooky.  I can’t imagine cruising down the road, looking over, and not seeing anyone in the driver’s seat in the car next to me.

In a very real instance, on May 22, 2014 (two whole years ago!), the governor of California Jerry Brown signed a senate bill into state law allowing the driverless cars freedom on public roads and highways. If this advanced technology is already being recognized by the state and federal government, we know it will play a bigger role in everyday life. Scary in my opinion.

The way these cars work is through a central computer system in the console of the vehicle that communicates with sensors surrounding the car, bouncing back the location of the its surroundings. From there, the navigation system controls the acceleration, braking and steering. The only consolation is if something were to go wrong, the car responds to manual steering, shifting, and peddle work.

The US is not alone in their quest for leisurely travel. The UK, Japan, and Sweden, to name a few, are all conducting their own experiments with driverless cars.

Now this all seems well and good, and advancements in technology get an ‘A’ for innovation on this one, but I can’t help but be left with millions of questions. What does this mean for delivery trucks, semis, taxi cabs, city buses and Uber? Might as well forget the good old fashion road trip.  If this becomes the American norm, then how do you regulate these cars? Do the cars have to pass some sort of driving test like human drivers do? How would you go about ticketing for law infringements?  Would this not cost America thousands of jobs in the auto industry? The mass production of these cars would definitely be a hit on the national economy, one way or another.

I do see the benefits, however. Road trips would be more about the atmosphere within the car versus the navigation. Getting lost would be a thing of the pass. “Drivers” would be able to eat, read, do make-up, etc., during their morning commute. There would (ideally) be fewer accidents. I do think there are positives to the project, but is it necessary?

I’m all for innovation and advancements in technology, and I think it’s super cool that we have this opportunity. I do, however, believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For me, I like being able to weave in and out of traffic and enjoy cruising on my own time (legally of course). For me, I think I’ll keep a hold of the wheel and feel safer on the road if everyone else did too.

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