This is no April Fools’ joke; Google has built the first self-driving car. What was once considered the realm of science fiction is quickly becoming reality. Today’s science and technology has reached a point where things that were only seen in the movies are now possible.
Not only are they possible, but these autonomous cars have been test-driven (more like, test-ridden) for over 200,000 miles without a single machine-caused mishap. If this technology is widely adopted, traffic and accidents will be reduced by more efficient driving.
By using the searchable and surfable 3D image database Google Street View has developed, the car’s GPS can essentially navigate itself to your destination. The hardware and software in the car gathers and interprets massive amounts of real-time data and acts on that knowledge surely enough to find its way through countless types of crowded streets. Below is a picture of what the car “sees” when its driving.
These self-driving cars do not make the mistakes than humans can and will continue to make if we are behind the wheel. Autonomous cars will never shift their focus off the road to check a text, read a map, or change the station. They can also make split-second decisions without hesitation.
In the future, if self-driving cars catch on, couples can be chauffeured on their dates alone, business people can increase their productivity while commuting, and people with disabilities can finally drive. Nevada has established a testing framework to allow these cars to be driven for real, with California following suit.
Clearly there are many benefits to increased automation, but are there any unintended consequences we’re overlooking? Should we be wary of an iRobot-type situation, or should we just embrace the presence of technology in our lives?