Back in 1885 was the first of what would become all too common, an automobile accident. Karl Benz reportedly invented the automobile in 1885. “Later that year Benz took it out for the first public test drive. And true story he crashed into a wall,” Chris Urmson informs or reminds us as he narrates an impressive Ted Talk, “How a driverless car sees the road.”
Chris Urmson knows his passion: creating safer automobiles. Urmson shares his concerns as he guides us through simulated traffic and technological action through the eyes of a self-driving car. He explains that, for “the last 130 years we’ve worked around the least reliable part of the car … the driver.”
He has my rapt support. Although I love trains, for many reasons, I prefer them to automobiles due to the disastrous consequences of traffic and the inattentive driver. Here are some details, which you may know well:
In spite of stronger cars, extra seat belts, and air bags, 1.2 million people are killed on the world’s roads every year; 33,000 year in the US every year. He compares that to a 737 falling out of the sky every working day. Traffic has also gotten worse and worse, hurting us in lost economic activity as well as health problems from an overly sedentary lifestyle and stress.
A bit of Urmson’s breakdown:
“On average, 6 billion minutes are wasted in commuting. A very human cost. So if you take the average commute time in America, which is about 50 minutes, you multiply that by the 120 million workers we have, that turns out to be about 6 billion minutes wasted in commuting every day. Now, that’s a big number, so let’s put it in perspective.You take that six billion minutes, and you divide it by the average life expectancy of a person, that turns out to be 162 lifetimes spent every day, wasted, just getting from A to B.”
According to EV Obsession, “the jury is still out — autonomous cars (or self-driving cars) may be the future of everything (according to some people) or they may just remain a very niche technology (according to others).” Elon Musk believes that drivers will become like the once-necessary elevator operator, which is needless now. Push the button and the elevator runs itself.
Urmson is sure, and he claims, that, “in the last decade, we’ve actually started trying to make the car smarter to fix that bug, the driver.” Glimpse into the future — and begin to understand — why driverless cars are going to save lives, many lives: “Chris Urmson: How a driverless car sees the road.”
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