Doing Self-Driving Cars the Right Way

I Rode 500 Miles in a Self-Driving Car and Saw the Future. It’s Delightfully Dull

by ALEX DAVIES

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First off, if you’ve read anything I’ve written before about concerns with AI or robots taking over in the future you may scratch your head on why I would be on board with self-driving cars.

However, I suppose my fascination is purely selfishly motivated.

I often am in the driver’s seat whenever I get in the car (always when it’s just me, and usually when I’m with other people too) and after over a decade of driving, I’m over it. I’d rather not have to do it.

With the dangers of drunk driving, drowsy driving, texting while driving, or just plain distracted driving, the older I become and the more I read on how dangerous driving really is the more a safe self-driving car seems alluring.

In his article Alex writes, “All the gadgetry that keeps it squarely centered in its lane, at precisely the speed you select” demonstrates its high degree of safety. He goes on, “It’s remarkably smooth, maintaining a safe following distance, making smooth lane changes, and politely moving to the left to pass slower vehicles controlled by carbon-based life-forms. Perhaps most impressive, it’s so sophisticated that I never felt anything unusual, and in fact the car is designed to reassure you that you need only grab the wheel or tap the brake to immediately take control of the car.”

One thing though I would really like is to be in a self-driving car but not have to sit in the uncomfortable “driving position”.

I understand the need to potentially take over the driving in extreme circumstances but as Alex puts it “The way Audi sees it, anyone given the responsibility of piloting this new device on public roads had damned well be up to the task of taking over, because if you need to grab the wheel, the odds are something’s gone terribly amiss. The nicer way of saying this is it takes a lot of skill to be better a better driver than Audi’s robot.”

I think with more and more self-driving cars on the road it becomes a safer and safer bet to just let the car drive and maybe one day I could catch so extra zzz’s.

So when is this all gonna happen?

Again, Alex writes:

“Audi, like every major automaker experimenting with autonomous driving tech, sees many hurdles—the technology, yes, but also regulatory issues, insurance questions, and consumer acceptance of the tech—that must be cleared before we have cars that drive themselves in all places at all times. So it is nibbling away at the edges, planning to introduce autonomous features one by one in coming years. It’s a slower timeline than Google’s “moonshot” approach, but one that gives everyone time to accept the technology.

I see great benefit to this method.

My father worked for GTE (General Telephone & Electronics Corporation) before they merged with Bell Atlantic to become Verizon in 2000. In the early 90’s my dad brought home a telephone that had a small video screen on it so you could see the person on the other end. Now mind you this was before cell phones where in everyone’s pocket and before Skype was a glimmer in Janus Friis or Niklas Zennström (@niklaszennstrom) eyes.

One of my first thoughts as a kid was that video chat, especially on a home phone (I didn’t even think of business applications as a child), would never work because people might come to the phone in their pajamas (or worse).

This phone didn’t really seem to take off either because I never had anyone with the device I could call who also had one so I never got to see anyone in their pajamas.

Fast-forward to now and we could video chat face to face on a plethora of service options on all of our favorite devices. I think this came about through gradual changes to cell phones and ultimately leading consumers to all have products with similar features so they could have someone to video chat with and also to get comfortable with them because each of the additions were small/new features at the time.

I think the Audi approach will be one that transitions our current car culture into the car experienced I dream about, while the car is driving itself.

More of a leader than a follower? I understand. Lead the conversation with me by commenting below.

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