Remember the days when handmade items were considered superior to machine-made ones? Maybe the same switch will occur with driving.
Following Google’s early lead in self-driving vehicles, and adding a twist, Oxford University is testing a driverless Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. It is controlled by an iPad which enables a person to take over the car or switch to “auto drive,” which permits the robot system to drive itself. Check out these videos below, followed by more text.
The system is being tested in Begbroke Science Park, near Oxford. The next stage of research involves teaching the robot to understand complex traffic flows, and to decide the best routes to take, according to Dr. Ingmar Posner, who is co-leading the project
Self-driving cars have been under development for a while, and they do work. However, would they actually provide a net safety benefit?
Automation in general has come a long way, and is now, in many cases, very accurately done. Factory machinery now achieves unparalleled consistency and high accuracy. A factory machine can be like having the perfect employee that never slacks off, and always exercises the best practices, no matter how tedious they may be.
But let us explore the safety of this concept by first considering the nature of most automobile accidents. They are often caused by inattention in various ways. An intentional failure to pay attention when text messaging; an inevitable loss of attention even when doing nothing; interruption of attention caused by phone calls; loud, distracting music; reduced attention due to high levels of alcohol in the body; and much more.
An automated system always “pays attention,” and can actually watch all sides of the car, unlike people. It also has potential efficiency benefits. Robots are not temperamental — they can drive at consistent, lower speeds for a longer time than many people can without getting frustrated. This is a highly efficient way to drive, and a way to extend vehicle range.
Will self-driving cars provide all these benefits without adding notable downsides? What do you think?
Source: Autoblog Green