The answer to the question of responsibility for speeding tickets is something the courts and legislators are still hammering out. With automakers like Tesla who have semi-autonomous vehicles already on the road and Ford's announcement on Tuesday of plans to release driverless vehicles in 2021, lawmakers had better hurry up. As often happens, technology is about to outpace the law.
America is a step closer to The Jetsons. The 1960s cartoon series showed a family in the future with their robotic maid -- bonus points if you know her name. Judy -- the wife -- would pack Elroy into the flying car and off to the supermarket.
Automobiles aren't flying yet -- but they are driving themselves.
Driverless technology seems exciting and scary. Americans are still trying to be comfortable with the idea of trusting a vehicle capable of making its own decisions.
Questions are being asked:
Are they safe?
Would driverless cars reduce traffic?
Would commuting time be shortened?
How many people will buy a self-driving car?
Regardless of the answers, self-guided cars are coming. From BMW to Ford, manufacturers are gearing up their efforts to put the cars on the road. Leading the way are tech companies like Apple and Google.
Google spent the summer of 2015 testing its version on roads all over California. Some estimates predict over 10 million driverless cars on American roads by 2020.
Although autonomous vehicles will be a leap forward, they are not appearing out of nowhere. The initial generation of cars is being built in stages on many of the features found in automobiles now.
Features like cruise control, parking assist, sensors to accelerate, brake and steer cars are on the highways today.
Car makers have been working towards autonomous features for years. Each improvement directed to the place we are now: totally independent cars are ready to cruise.
Skeptics worry the processors utilized to drive the cars will be unpredictable and apt to make mistakes. The skeptics should remember nothing is more unstable -- or predisposed to mistakes at the wheel -- than humans.
From eating, drinking, texting and nodding off at the wheel, people have proven to be awful drivers. In America alone, over 1 million people die each year from auto accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Collisions are the primary reason of fatalities globally for individuals between 15 and 24. Almost half of everybody involved in a crash never hit the brakes.
As with any technology, it is vital to learn about the product before making a purchase.
Here are some things everybody should know about self-driving cars.
Self-driving vehicles are programmed to be careful. There isn't any road rage with self-driving cars. The prototype self-driving cars developed and tested are built to be cautious -- some reviewers even say "timid." The cars tend to drive slow and err on the side of caution.
Most self-driving cars just don't look cool. Gear heads and people who faint at the looks of a Mustang, Porche or Ferrari are not apt to appreciate the aesthetics of self-driving cars. So far, they have not been designed for sex appeal and in fact, "the marshmallow" is the nickname given to Google's self-driving car.
The risk of driverless cars getting hacked is high. Cyber security is not a binary goal; there will never be a system that can't be hacked. With enough incentive -- and a few very creative people -- any system can be compromised. When it comes to hacking cars, the future is already here, according to Stefan Savage, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego. To prove his point, Savage and his research team wirelessly hacked into a 2009 Chevy Impala through its OBD-II port. They were able to successfully manipulate the car’s braking system causing the car to stop suddenly on its own.
Don't Get Snowed (In)
Self-driving cars will work in a snowstorm, but several problems may be encountered:
1. As fresh snow covers the roadway, the lane markers and road edges are no longer visible.
2. Snow in the air reduces visibility and radar isn't always able to see objects moving through it.
3. Icy road conditions will require developed driving skills at a lower speed.
4. Salt can cloud up sensors.
Automakers are busy working out the kinks in the cars and in the legislation. While it may be a few years before the cars are available, they are hopeful that it will happen in most of our lifetimes. Autonomous vehicles will not only help those who can't drive due to blindness and disabilities but also remove the human factor and make the road safer for everyone.
Even Rosie would appreciate that.