Driverless vehicles – who will sign the POD?

As mentioned in our last article “Drones: the future happening now”, many believed 100 years ago that we would all be moving around in automatic flying vehicles by now. Going forward in time, there are some well known movies that also tried to predict the future. For example, in the 1990 blockbuster Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character hops into a driverless taxi, operated by a silly-looking robot. Also, who doesn’t remember K.I.T.T and the infamous series “Knight Rider”?

It seems that some of this fictional representations of the future might have turned out to be too conservative!! This is the case of driverless cars. Throughout this article, we will discuss positive and negative implications of another case of the future happening now!

Google is one of the pioneers of driverless cars. Did you know that they own a fleet of driverless cars which are actually operating in California, Mountain View and Texas? Although it’s a fairly recent technology and the prototypes need still to improve, driverless cars could have a potentially big impact in the following years. Free markets and technology will interact to trigger a productivity, social and economic revolution: at some point in the 2020s, driverless cars could go mainstream.

Now, let’s talk about some of the pros of driverless cars:

  • In comparison to the myriad of bad behaviors a driver might exhibit behind the wheel, a computer is actually an ideal motorist. Since 81 percent of car crashes are the result of human error, computers would take a lot of danger out of the equation entirely.
  • Computers use complicated algorithms to determine appropriate stopping distance, distance from another vehicle and other data that decreases the chances of car accidents dramatically, and there are no opportunities for a computer to be “distracted”
  • As an article from Forbes points out, there is also a cost savings associated with time. Higher speed limits might be considered as an option if more people are using self-driving cars. Since the computers calculate operation of the vehicle safely, driving time could be reduced by faster speeds allowed on the road. Regarding driverless trucks, this could mean faster deliveries!

On the other hand, there are some of the cons of driverless car

  • In the case of an accident, who would be the responsible? The manufacturer, the software maker or the owner? This would need to be clarified.
  • As the car is connected to the internet, what would happen it someone hacks it? It could potentially endanger passengers’ life!
  • The cars are not able to operate at a high level of safety in all weather conditions. In fact, heavy rain can do serious damage to the laser sensor mounted on the car’s roof, calling into question what role the driver might have to play in the event the technology fails.
  • In the case of being pulled over by the police, due to any infraction, who would deal with the cops?