Sunday, October 27, 2013

On the risks created by "self-driving cars"

First we heard about cars that could park themselves.  Now there are a cars that brake for you.  And the next big thing are cars that drive themselves.  Sort of.  And, as you would expect, there is a lot of discussion out there about whether these "improvements" might actually create more risks.  Here is a link to a recent article on the subject.  Its main point is the most dangerous moment in a self driving car is the moment when it has to turn over the controls to the human driver:  "Thrust back into control while going full-speed on the freeway, the driver might be unable to take stock of all the obstacles on the road, or she might still be expecting her computer to do something it can't. Her reaction speed might be slower than if she'd been driving all along, she might be distracted by the email she was writing or she might choose not to take over at all, leaving a confused car in command. There's also the worry that people's driving skills will rapidly deteriorate as they come to rely on their robo-chauffeurs."