The NMA Foundation presents the Car of the Future weekly feature:
This week, AAA released survey results on American motorists’ feelings about driverless cars. Three-quarters of drivers said they would be afraid to ride in an autonomous vehicle. AAA Director of automotive engineering and industry relations, Greg Bannon says one of the reasons may be that drivers have had their own problems with the safety technology in their current vehicle. He added, “U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel that they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver—and they’re correct.”
I have an older model car so I can’t speak for adaptive technologies but I did have an algorithmic problem in the last two weeks that had nothing to do with me. A couple of Tuesdays ago, the Amazon cloud service had some sort of algorithmic failure which translated in making my job more difficult for the day because the cloud apps I use were not fully functional. It happens. No one died I don’t think and Amazon quickly fixed the problem.
A cloud service is one thing but if you are hurtling 65 mph on a highway and let’s say road debris falls off a truck at such an angle that my transportation pod cannot see it…I’m probably dead or at least hurt pretty badly and is this risk worth it?
Computerworld.com recently had an article that discussed why self-driving cars may never really be self-driving. One of the experts on driverless cars quoted in the article Andre Platzer, said that the problem with creating an effective computer algorithm for self-driving vehicles is more about ensuring that the vehicle is self-aware, and therefore capable of recognizing its own operating limitations. I personally would love a self-aware car that could assist me driving but not necessarily be responsible for the driving. A rather big distinction.
California requires automakers who are testing driverless cars to detail in January how many times their vehicles malfunctioned during the preceding year. These disengagement reports detail every time a human driver had to quickly take control of the car, either due to a suspected problem or an outright problem in the hardware or software. Waymo (a spinoff of Alphabet-formerly Google) accounted for over 95 percent of all miles driven by driverless cars in 2016. Waymo’s fleet of 60 cars drove 635,868 miles for a total of 124 disengagements, 51 of them due to software. For the miles driven, perhaps not so bad statistically.
But we’re not talking about software that we use at our desk at work—we are talking about software that drives our car. Another rather big distinction.
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