There were many headlines about self-driving cars a few years back. You may think they are far from becoming a reality but they are already here! A Tesla on cruise control is able to drive and navigate itself.
If there is a GPS destination and you are on a busy highway, the car suggests changing lanes to get into the exit ramp. The car then signals and takes the exit for you. It first slows down to the correct speed limit for the exit ramp and then a chime sounds alerting you to take over.
Self-driving personal cars are not the only ones available. Self-driving taxi service is available in four American cities; Phoenix, Dallas, Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. It will be made available in more cities in America. Jody Kelman, director of Lyft’s self-driving taxi program said that forty thousand people have already tried the service and it’s becoming increasingly normal for people.
Karl Iagnemma, the president of self-driving at Aptiv, says these cars never get drowsy, are never impaired by alcohol and are never distracted by their cell phones. The technology employed in the self-driving cars include; 21 sensors integrated into the car, Light Detection and Ranging sensors in front and radars. It also has some camera systems looking forward.
Iagnemma said the self-driving taxi has a driver who is ready to take over in case the car sees or does something unexpected. Karl recalls one day when they were driving in Singapore. A person wearing a chicken suit was crossing the road and the car wasn’t quite sure what was going on.
On the other hand, some people prefer manual driving where they get to be in control. Jason Torchinsky, author of “Robot, Take the Wheel” said that controlling everything while driving is what makes driving the old 1966 MG so wonderful.
Torchinsky says that when a person is driving, there’s a satisfaction that happens when one is able to feel everything. He added that when one is in a self-driving car, it’s like taking a plane. This is because you get in in one place, look at your phone for 3 hours and then get off in your destination.
However, advanced technology is not always safe and reliable. 5 people have lost their lives in accidents involving self-driving cars. Aptiv’s Karl Iagnemma points out that the number of deaths caused by human-driven cars are much worse. Over 1.3 million people die per year on the road and Karl believes they can dramatically reduce that number. He says they are preventable deaths.
Karl says that in Vegas, they have never had an accident caused by their technology. People get in the car and see how safe, comfortable, smooth it is, and they begin believing in the self-driving cars.
In the near future, driverless cars will be plenty and people will be able to make the choice of whether they want to be in control or sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.