If you haven’t already heard, Google (and a few lesser known companies) are developing technology to allow cars to drive themselves with cameras and a variety of other sensors mounted on the vehicles. In fact, this technology is almost ready for prime time. Google has already demonstrated the technology in a proof-of-concept situation which allowed a blind man to run errands in the driver’s seat, while being chauffeured by the automated vehicle.
As an auto shop, we are always interested in all things cars and driverless car technology certainly sounds cool and would open up access to cars to all kinds of people, including the blind. It would also allow people to travel long distances on freeways and the like without needing to pay attention to the road. Imagine playing cards with your friends or watching a movie in the back seat while the car drives itself down I-70.
But the auto technician in us is also a bit wary about safety concerns. And it turns out that we are not alone. Although the technology for these driverless cars is almost complete and they are expected to roll out in just a few years, some say that they should be limited until the tech is fully demonstrated to be safe. Since we at your favorite auto shop (Fort Collins Foreign Car Service) see the aftermath of accidents on a daily basis, it’s tough not to agree with these concerns.
Some are saying that the initial vehicles should be limited to 25 mph and have foam bumpers that would limit damage in the case of a collision. That certainly sounds reasonable, although the 25 mph limit would preclude them from travelling on many roads.
While safety is always a concern, its worth remembering that humans aren’t always the best drivers either. Either way, our auto shop will be interested to see what happens with this new technology and we hope that it can be implemented in a way that is both safe and useful.