Would You Consider Riding in a Driverless Car?

Technology goes through major movements. The last one we entered into was the wearables phase with the Apple Watch and clones, FitBits, and Google Glass. It seems like the next phase they’ve been working on for quite a while is the driverless car.

These cars, sometimes called autonomous cars, self-driving cars, or robotic cars, would literally drive themselves thanks to technology. They detect their surroundings, such as obstacles and signs, and use GPS to find their way. But would they be safe to drive in? We asked our technology-minded writers, “Would you consider riding in a driverless car?

Derrik reports that he would ride in a driver-less car because “the technology is there and a lot of smart people have been working on it for a long time.” He admits there are issues with them, but for the most part he believes a lot of the accidents happen when a human does get involved. But if you take humans out of the equation, he thinks riding in a driverless car “would be incredibly safe.”

For Phil, these cars give him “the willies,” yet he admits that’s only in the abstract as he’s never ridden in one. He agrees with Derrik that the tech is well developed and knows how it works, but then sees himself as “a tough sell being a bit of a luddite at heart.” He admits to even rarely using cruise control. Yet he agrees that a driver relying on it too much would be what would make him feel unsafe.

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Robert agrees that “the concept is a little freaky,” but in principle he doesn’t see why cars shouldn’t go in that direction. He notes that planes have gone that route and become much safer, and he believes the accidents we see are mainly “caused by human error due to over-relying on the technology then not knowing what to do when it fails.

He’s a bit of an “anxious passenger” as it is, preferring to have control over the situation, so for him much of it would have to do with where he car is being driven. He’d be okay with it if it was driving in the city at slow speeds but definitely not on “motorways of weaving English country roads with barely enough room for two cars to drive past each other.” He and Phil both see English roads as much different than American ones. He suggests letting others be the guinea pigs and joining in after it’s known to be safe.

For Mahesh, he would definitely ride in a driverless car, as he knows that the companies with these cars “have robust technology and would never put their customers at risk.” He agrees that it depends on the roads that the cars are being driven on.

My opinion kind of floats in the middle of all the others. While I’m normally one to jump readily into new technology, putting my life at risk makes it different. I agree that the cars have been in development so long they’re bound to be safe. And frankly there are many drivers on the road that are much more dangerous than driverless cars. But like Robert, I think I’ll let others be the guinea pigs and will welcome the technology once it becomes a bit more commonplace.

Where do you sit with this issue? Do you trust this emerging technology? Or would you be a nervous nelly in one of these cars? Would you consider driving in a driverless car? Jump into the discussion below in the comments.

Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson and Steve Jurvetson at Wikimedia Commons

3 comments

  1. Under ideal conditions, I probably would ride a driverless car. However, we are years away from ideal conditions.
    1) As long as there are human drivers on the road, there can be no safety. Either all vehicles on the road are driverless or none are.
    2) I do not believe that ‘driverless’ technology is advanced enough. There still are many bugs.
    3) As long as the computers controlling the driverless cars can be hacked, the cars will not be ready for prime time. Currently it is possible to fight off a car-jacker. How does one fight off a car-jacking perpetrated from a distance?

    In and of themselves, driverless cars are safe. from what I’ve read, they have performed very well under controlled conditions. However, out in the real world, there are many factors affecting their safety and security.

  2. I can see a time where the technology is there for safety. It is unfortunate that Dragonmouth is correct. You have to eliminate human drivers completely as they are unpredictable. It has been a theme in many sci-fi stories, to have completely automated transportation. However, the human spirit desires to be in control, so people will want to drive themselves until government forces automation upon you. As freedoms are lost, people rebel. My biggest fear would be that Google and other big data companies would seize the opportunity to track your every movement. I consider this the very worst form of slavery – to be told you are free, but directed like a pinball. You have to ask why Google and Apple have had such a deep interest in driverless cars.

    • “My biggest fear would be that Google and other big data companies would seize the opportunity to track your every movement. ”
      I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that capability is already built into all late-model cars. The car’s computers record where you start, where you stop, how you got there, at what speed, etc. They work in a similar manner to Cockpit Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder on airplanes.

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