Question: Would you rather drive a car that is computer enhanced or drive a computer with wheels? I’ll take the computer car. Make mine a Google Car.
Google has 7 self-driving cars on the streets and freeways of California. They’ve logged over 200,000 miles and getting us closer to the reality that we don’t have to stop texting, face-booking or doing our make-up while commuting to work. When I saw my first self-driving Prius- Google in the Bay area, I thought it was one of their street-camera cars. But then I realized that was no camera on the roof, but a spinning laser array…cool. The best guess for having self-driving cars as a standard model in show-rooms is 2020. I’m ready now.
Because Nevada and the surrounding desert have been used for self-driving auto tests for years, they are the only state that has legislation to allow autonomous cars to be driven legally on all state highways. Google helped them draft the legislation. Yes, texting is NOT illegal in Nevada in a self-driving car. California, where dozens of self-driving machines are running around, does not have any laws concerning their operation. Mercedes, Audi, Volvo and of course Google, are all in development and testing stages.
Especially troubling will be the legal issues when a self-driving car crashes. Do you sue the computer company, the auto manufacturer, the driver, the dealership, etc.? A few years ago, BMW had a self-parking car. There was a remote-parking button the driver could push and the car goes in and parks itself, while the driver waits outside. It never became a market-item because the legal department would not permit this to go forward.
There will be heavy push-back when the truly auto-car becomes available. We have two opposite mind-sets about our cars, especially in America. We love our cars…I mean LOVE our cars.
This is a subject worth exploring in more columns and I will. I’ve always been fascinated with how my friends and I have differing views, feelings and attachments to the automobile.
But for now, a few facts: From 2001 to 2009 the American roads claimed 370,000 lives. One landmark study cited HUMAN ERROR was “The definite or probable causes” of 93% of these crashes. Wow! This doesn’t count the millions of racked-up bodies in wheelchairs, on crutches, and in pain for the rest of their lives. Those are staggering numbers. 340,000 dead people because of drivers making wrong decisions.
The computer driven car is better than human driving in every way possible. There is a big difference, however, in auto companies improving their brands’ driving abilities with new computer aids incrementally, and still maintaining and growing market share. So we have auto manufacturers trying to make its cars drive more like computers and we have companies like Google that want to create computers that drive.
Which do you choose?