It’s been over a century since the dawn of the automobile, and well past the half-century mark since automobile makers first entertained the concept of a self-driving car – albeit the mid-modern approach looked something like a Lionel electric train crossed with a Disneyland ride. Today’s 21st Century achievements align with what was hoped for in yesteryear.
Autonomous automobiles, or self-driving cars as Google seems to prefer to call them, are getting safer by the test mile, but there has been thirteen occasions Google reported in California where a human test driver had to take over the steering to avoid an accident.
Interestingly, among the causes of incidents requiring human intervention was erratic behavior by surrounding cars (driven by humans). There’s the premise of a successful reality TV show here if Google ever chooses to release the near-miss videos.
Picture a college kid test pilot with his head down feverishly working on a homework assignment when suddenly Hal the computer screams for help as the Autobot barrel-rolls away from a cat.
Ultimately Google’s Alphabet Division in charge of developing self-driving cars would like to build autonomous cars that don’t require a human to be involved.
Last December, California announced proposed regulations for self-driving cars that would require specially licensed drivers. It’s our guess the special driver’s license would fall under the Chauffer category with similar requirements.
As with the rapid accent horseless carriages transformed into proper motorcars at the turn of the 20th Century, it’s clear the next big 100-year change will be from driving a car to being driven in one. The bright side of autonomous cars to people that love to drive is self-driving cars will eliminate a lot of inept drivers that shouldn’t be allowed to drive. The downside is a concern that eventually all humans will not be allowed to drive — And how much are those things going to cost?