Driverless Cars

Driverless cars are a dream that will probably be commercialized in a few years’ time. For years, Google has been testing its driverless models on the streets and highways of Silicon Valley to flush out any errors. They have logged hundreds of thousands of miles without any accident. The software that takes the chores out of human driving is being continuously improved until someday when it is ready to serve.

According to traffic statistics, 30,000 Americans are killed in car accidents every year. Out of the total number of accidents, human errors make up 93%. Since the auto-pilot is totally devoted to its job without being distracted, it looks like a driverless car can save many lives.

On the other hand, traffic statistics can also be interpreted from another angle. In view of the millions of cars running on the road, a fatal accident only occurs once every 3 million driving hours. It seems that people are pretty good drivers overall.

Regardless of the statistics, all drivers must ask themselves one pertinent question: Do I trust leaving my driving to a piece of software? Obviously, we trust the drivers of taxis, limousines, buses, trains, boats, and even airplanes. Their attention can be distracted as easily as ours. Furthermore, most airplanes now are equipped with auto-pilots, and some trains and boats, too.

If the driving software has gone through long hours of rigorous testing in different conditions, the chances will be much reduced for a traffic accident. However, there is still a slight chance for error since the human mind cannot possible foresee all possibilities in real-life driving situations. This is the tradeoff we have to make. The bottom line is that the auto-pilot must perform much better than the existing accident statistics.

Personally, I like driverless cars because I cannot afford a chauffeur. In addition, my driving skill may not be as good as the well-tested auto-pilot. A driverless car makes driving fun because I can rest for a while when I get tired on the road or must answer an urgent phone call. Besides, I can have a drink before getting in the car without worrying about my driving ability being adversely influenced by alcohol. I feel safe about the auto-pilot because it is always designed to obey the human master when he/she wants to take over control any time.

November 2014

This entry was posted in 21st Century, Game Changer, Inspiration, Science/Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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