Thursday, September 17, 2015

Should We Doubt Self-Driving Cars?

             The introduction of self-driving cars was revolutionary.  Google is attempting to prove that they can systematically remove human error from another ordinary part of life.  However, should this technology be invited or ostracized?
            The automobile industry is certainly one of those who is against this new technology.  The success of driverless cars could potentially run all car manufacturers out of business if they are relatively affordable and are proven to be safer than traditional motor vehicles.  The one question for all consumers as well as manufacturers to answer is: Can we trust these cars?  Do we want our lives to be under the control of technology?
            Car and truck manufactures have stated, “that a shift to fully self-driving vehicles ‘will require massive amounts of philosophical, technological, and legislative effort and change.’” (McFarland).  Although this statement is true, it will not stop Google and other similar companies from continuing their research on the subject.  If Google can make people’s lives easier as well as more productive by creating a self-driving car, they will do so.  In addition, self-driving cars could also be a huge source of revenue, especially if companies like Uber begin to use them.  There would no longer be a great need for cabs if cars could be called via cell phones.  Current technology could potentially be a huge help in developing the self-driving car.  If the car could be built without flaw, the car could change the way people live.
            However, is the potential downside of a completely programed car enough to stop research?  One major issue is hacking.  A completely programed car could potentially be hacked and controlled by an outside force.  This could cause major car accidents and traffic jams across the country.  United States drones can be hacked and used against us, so there would be no stopping anyone from using cars to disrupt peoples’ lives as well.
            Another potential downside of a programed car is malfunction.  No form of technology is impervious to disruptions in primary function.  Technology breaks all of the time and a car would be no different.  Roadways also change all of the time.  How is the car going to recognize construction areas and slow down?  How is the car going to recognize when a police officer is on the shoulder of a highway and need to slow down?  How is the car going to recognize when it needs to pull over for an emergency vehicle?  There are many aspects of driving that require a human driver. 

            In my opinion, there is no substitution for a human behind the wheel of a car.  There is simply too much risk involved in creating this kind of technology.  Although, more accidental deaths are caused by car accidents, it is impossible to predict whether the number would rise or fall if a self-driving car was legalized.  Overall, the risk is too great because of the lives at stake.

For further information:
McFarland, Matt. "Why Automakers May Want You to Doubt Self-driving Cars." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.


  1. After reading a few articles on the topic, I would argue that the driverless cars seem more efficient than those operated by human drivers. I read that the driverless cars have a range of sensors that are used to "monitor a vehicle’s movement and the movement of other vehicles, pedestrians, and potential obstacles much more thoroughly than the average driver, and can safely react to potential collusion hazards much quicker than average human reflexive capabilities". The fact that these cars can react faster than we can and can be more aware of their surroundings, as they cannot be distracted by a screaming child, the radio or sleepiness, proves to me that these cars are less risky. I would argue that these cars would decrease the number of fatalities from car accidents, as these technology operated cars have to truly obey all laws on the road such as speed limit and fully stopping of stop signs and red lights. Another benefit to consider is that a computer lacks human emotion and therefore cannot experience road rage, a common source of accidents. This inability to feel stress, anger or fright will allow the cars to drive more carefully and in a more focused manner. Also, self-driving cars could allow for easier and more efficient parking as they could "drop off passengers and then park themselves, parking spaces wouldn't need to be wide enough to allow doors to open". By reducing the number of car accidents a year, these cars will save us money in the long run even though they will be expensive in the beginning. While I understand the risk associated with driverless cars, I think that the benefits of them are greater and that overall, they will be a safer option for us in the future.



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