Look around you on your next commute and watch in awe at what your fellow drivers are doing. Checking their phones, eating, putting on makeup, dancing, singing and occasionally, driving. The reality is our fast-paced, distraction filled lives have made our roads incredibly unsafe. But what if our cars started driving for us?
It’s not a surprise that self-driving autonomous car technology is already here and being tested. In the last few years, we’ve begun to see cars that will parallel park for us, help us stay in our lane and put on the brakes when we are getting too close to another driver. But the ultimate experience is a car you don’t need to drive.
Google’s recently developed, and funky looking, self-driving car looks like it came straight out of a children’s cartoon. However, the GPS, radar and sensors built in make it a pretty powerful piece of technology. The LIDAR unit on top, which looks like a black jujube, is a 360 degree laser sensor that gives the car the ability to see the world and detect obstacles such as other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Perhaps the most striking feature about the Google car, there is no steering wheel. Why need one? This car is fully controlled by a computer. Although the early models will include manual controls, just in case something goes wrong, the goal is to have a car where no human intervention is needed.
Self-driving cars may finally be our solution to ending one of the leading causes of death in our country. Google’s test fleet of cars has already surpassed over 2.7 million kilometers and seen only 11 minor accidents, with light damage and no injuries. Not surprisingly, the accidents that did happen were caused by human error, not the car.
Safety is, of course, the number one priority and we are already seeing articles discussing an interesting ethical dilemma that we may soon be facing. If our cars start making decisions on the road, whose safety is priority? If an accident is about to happen and the computer must make a split second decision, will your life be jeopardized if it means saving the lives of many others? Putting aside the realization that our car could be programmed to kill us, autonomous vehicles would still reduce, and maybe even eliminate, the 90% of accidents that are caused by human error
Get ready to start seeing self-driving cars on the road. Major car manufacturers such as Nissan, Mercedes and Volvo plan to release their self-driving cars within the next few years. Tesla has already announced a software update called “Autopilot” that will allow their cars to autonomously drive on highways and major roads.
From electric, to self-parking and finally self-driving cars, we’ve come a long way since the days of horse and carriage. “Home Jeeves, and Don’t Spare the Horses.”
Robert Simeon is a public relations professional and the Marketing Director at Banja Solutions. With a focus on local businesses, Banja.ca offers full marketing solutions including web design, social media management and graphic design.