It depends on whom you talk to or what you read as to whether you think driverless cars are a boon or a bust. Like many other things in this world, driverless cars have their pros and cons. Many think driverless cars are an accident looking for a place to happen. Others say the technology will save lives.
Indeed it may, but there are other considerations on the table as well that you may not have read about in the media. For instance, Google’s driverless cars have been involved in at least 11 minor accidents. Google insists the cars were not the cause of those accidents and that no one was hurt. And yet, in the interests of transparency, one would think Google would release the police reports so that the public could learn what really happened in those accidents and not rely solely on Google’s word.
It’s true that in June Google began releasing monthly accident reports for its self-driving cars, but it’s curious that it took them so long do this after the cars have been on the roads of the Silicon Valley since 2009. Despite Google’s move toward more transparency, it will nonetheless be a tough challenge for those who have been driving for years to give up control to a machine that they fear may fail at the wrong time.
Incidentally, there are some reports beginning to come out that suggest driverless cars have the potential to actually kill others in the right set of circumstances. One hypothetical scenario given involved a driverless car stopping at a crosswalk where two children are crossing. Behind the car, a semi is bearing down toward the vehicle and is not likely to stop. The car could be programmed to veer right or left and prevent an accident, but that would give the semi a clear path to the children in the middle of the crosswalk. But if the car is not programmed to avoid a rear-end collision, the passenger may be killed.
Autopilots might be a nice diversion and may even work, but would they truly save lives in every chaotic and unpredictable instance?