Are we ready for robot cars?
There has been a great deal of media attention recently about the introduction of driver less vehicles on our roads. There is no doubt that removing the human element from driving means we can make our roads safer places. However, is it as simple as that? Should there be concerns about such a radical change to our massive transport network?
Loss of Control
Over half of British motorists surveyed said they felt uncomfortable with the idea of handing over control completely to a computer. Many people dislike the notion that they will have no control and worry about what will happen if a malfunction or error occurs during transit. Will there be options for retaking control in an emergency? Possibly not, as one maker of autonomous vehicles wants the steering wheel and pedals removed as they believe humans cannot be trusted to maintain attention when they are being driven autonomously.
It has been revealed that driverless vehicles currently don’t perform too well in bad weather conditions. Heavy rain, fog and snow disrupt their sensors which could prove an issue when it comes to recognising its proximity to other objects! The public should be insisting that these vehicles are fully ready before they are released onto our roads.
If an autonomous vehicle does incur a traffic violation then who holds the responsibility for that action? Some draft regulations in the United States show that people will be held responsible but surely if a vehicle is in autonomous mode, the manufacturer should bear responsibility.
Thousands of people rely on driving for their employment and the rise of autonomous vehicles does raise the question of what will happen to all these jobs if we replace human drivers with computers? India has already banned the use of driverless vehicles on its roads to protect millions of jobs that could potentially be lost. At the moment, we enjoy the human face of customer service – chatting to knowledgeable local taxi drivers and receiving our parcels from friendly couriers. Will we miss this interaction if it’s replaced by computers? For Couriers in Bracknell, visit http://www.uk-tdl.com/
There are some circumstances where robot cars struggle and this is when a situation requires intuition. When you reach a crossroads and someone flashes you, makes eye contact or waves you on is all based on intuition and human communication. Robot cars are also not very good at knowing that they have to move out of the way for oncoming emergency vehicles.
Just as we have hacking problems with banks, hospitals and other vital computer systems, could our vehicles also become susceptible to attack? Such is the concern about someone being able to seize control of your vehicle’s engine and systems that manufacturers are hiring hackers to identify vulnerabilities. If one manufacturer of robot cars uses a certain server to communicate then in theory, a hacker could seize control of every vehicle that uses that server. While we applaud companies that want to reduce the death and injury toll on our roads, the public needs to feel reassured that these vehicles are thoroughly tested and fail-safe before we hand over our control for good.