5 Reasons why we aren`t ready for autonomous driving.
Are we really ready to let a machine control our car and take advantage of that short trip to work in something more productive? unfortunately not.
Many times during work I always got asked this question "Do you like Autonomous cars?" they tried to tempt me with the advantages that it entails along more efficient traffic movement..etc
However I still don`t budge to this self driving craze, my answer is a firm "No" although stubborn and apparently retrograded to people that absolutely love any piece of cutting-edge technology, my answer remains unchanged, But why? I have 5 good reasons.
The basic/simple concept of an autonomous vehicle is the idea that the computer that "drives" the car guided by sensors, radar and GPS positioning software will follow a programmed route that we have introduced like a stroll trough the city or from our home to work, that car will go wherever we ask it to while obeying the traffic laws without making a single error or causing any incidents, the idea is basically a safer conmuting removing the human driver from the equation in order to eliminate the "human error" factor
As a good idea in theory it would work well and fulfill its purpose, but one thing must be taken into account, most of the traffic accidents have been caused by distractions at the wheel as: looking for a pair of glasses in the glovebox, changing radio stations, talking or sending messages on the phone looking at it instead of the road... the number of possible distractions is infinitely large to tell in this article.
I don`t have enough experience behind the wheel to have the right to point my finger and acuse other drivers, but I am sure that the number of idiots who would buy cars with these characteristics would be too big to count, they would play fruit ninja on their phone or they would sleep on their way to their destination. One of the keys to making traffic more fluid is a smaller amount of it and reducing it, that's why public transport exists and although it does not reach everywhere, walking more than 20 minutes has never hurt anyone.
the autonomous cars of today need several expensive and complicated things to "see" the road, they need a radar to see the obstacles like the pedestrians or cars including the guardrails, they need data of the road, for that reason they use a GPS system to orient themselves and determine their best Approach for the destination requested by the driver, and above all there is a central computer that has a preprogrammed set of movements to stop, accelerate or turn, including a short selection of evasive maneuvers including some cameras to see the road markings.
but seeing it from our realistic point of view, how many ordinary people can afford a car that can do all that? I have to say that if I go in a "Luxurious" Tesla P100D and I take it on "self driving" mode on a 3 lane avenue my autonomous car will see the older cars as obstacles that move and not like other cars as I perceive them.
In case an incident ocurs my car has to "predict" and in order to do that it needs to "talk" to other vehicles to minimize the collisions and risks however in the 90s none of that existed so the computer inside the car has to rely mostly on calculations and variables and sicne there is no driver equal to another and the variables at play during a ordinary driving session are many... I think that it`s like playing roulette and betting on the 1% that the number you bet for will appear against the other 99% that it won`t, In order for the technology to work properly the cars need to "talk" to each other and inform each other of the current situation, otherwise it won`t work the way it is intended.
would it be enough for our autonomous cars to communicate with each other and warn each other of accidents, traffic jams? Although the system would work much better and more efficiently compared to the average driver, it is necessary to take into account the billions of kilometers without asphalt or asphalted in earth, not all are impolite with well-painted asphalt markings, not all roads are smooth and well cared for.
There are potholes, the enemies of any average driver, able to puncture wheels and expensive alloy rims, or destroy their alignments or balances made with care by me after equipping new tires, and as we all know, almost no government in the world cares about these until the elections arrive, meanwhile we also have street signs that are already old, their paint is chipped or the sign is rusting away, today cars can read the signs and do whatever the sign tell them to do, but all it takes is a little grafiti over the sign to confuse the software.
then the autonomous software can do two things, resort to the database to know what possible signals were on that road or take a gamble and keep going forward (it can also halt and tell the driver to regain control) What would be necessary? First of all it would be necessary to modernize ALL the roads of the cities or highways, to equip additional sensors in the asphalt to help the autonomous cars to adapt to the circumstances and further inform them what`s going on.
and knowing that I am clear that my wallet wouldn`t be able to take a big tax round in order to modernize a road during election time... I have more important things to pay.
As a last point of why we are not ready for autonomous driving I have to say one thing,we have things like the weather, when it snows the snow ends up burying stuff at street level or pouring over sensors blinding them, if neither the car can see where is it going or the road be able to inform rendering it useless against conventional non autonomous cars.
you also have to take into account that there is a certain group of people who are bored a lot in their spare time, they`re unnemployed and that boredom tends to make them destroy anything for fun on their way, and I have pretty clear that a road full of poles that have expensive sensors inside would be no exception to them, much less talking about mainteance terms.
So far the only thing we can do in this era is to distract ourselves less at the wheel and above all to think twice before making any decision while driving, in order to ensure a safer conmute, we could reduce accidents at 75% if ALL drivers followed the rules without any autonomous driving function.
there is simply no better computer than the human brain, it will be slower than an electronic computer but its possibilities are endless compared to the limits of the programming.