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Aidan Buckner Mrs. Matias-Davoll English 8 12 February 2019 Self Driving Cars: Hands Off The range of benefits that self-driving cars can provide is immense. However, one of the main questions is: will they make the roads safer? An incident in Arizona resulting in the first fatality from self-driving cars, incited the companies to rethink their strategy, “Uber is devising the return of its self-driving cars but is planning a more conservative approach…” showing the difficulty with the PR problems and keeping the trust of the people and the lawmakers (“Uber” 1).
However, Google has reported with limited testing, that their cars have never been at fault for any crash, though they have only tested their cars on urban roads with light traffic, proving that they need to be put their cars through more thorough testing, before more advancement (Nelson 4). Despite being such an advancement in technology, self-driving cars have not gained the trust of the people and undergone such necessary reform. These car companies must converse with politics to ensure the safe use and development of this technology.
Self-driving cars in the long run, will result in a safer and more efficient way of travel. Google is running off the basis of self-driving cars reducing human error-caused accidents and Google says that the vehicles can not completely eliminate accidents, however may drastically reduce them and react to a “sticky situation” faster and more efficiently than humans can. Also, by proving these statistics, these advanced vehicles will be one step closer to gaining the full trust of society (Nelson 7).
Furthermore, consumers and people interested in the topic of self-driving cars may find the entire topic of research “intimidating” due to the lack of transparency with companies and complex systems in the cars, which Google in this case is striving to solve (Nelson 11). Both of these problems will contribute to the expansion and will help in maintaining a good public reputation during the development. All of these problems which do not necessarily attract the public are some problems that are high in priority to advance self-driving cars and the technology surrounding it. Another problem associated with self-driving cars, is determining certain situations ethically.
Some small ethical decisions that need to be made, is a harsh topic for the self-driving industry, some ranging from acceleration rate when pulling out into traffic or, hitting animals or pedestrians in certain situations. Also, knowing these companies cannot just dump the problem, when it arises, onto the human. They must make decisions that are in more agreement in society and be able to program it into the car to be executed in the harsh variable situations (Feschuk 4). Much like the ethical aspects, another problem is simply the weather. In certain weather conditions, the car must adapt and decide what is safe. Along with the ethical area, if an accident is likely to occur, the computer needs to know, if it should injure, or get the driver stuck, inciting a whole other area for legal and technological issues.
Although, putting most of the pressure on the companies, it does also bring up a larger list of dangers and outcomes than normal cars would present. Large steps are being taken by these companies when deciding important decisions. Some important decisions needing to be made, are determining what to do and how to set the moral compass of the car, or to allow the owner to make settings to what they would like, in regards to the morality of the vehicle. In comparison to aviation in the late 1900s, not only are we turning to automation, we must train the pilots, or in this case, drivers, to deal with situations, if automation breaks down. Although, a very vague way of thinking, by allowing the car to determine the best result of an accident and all the factors into play and determine the best outcome by itself with the most minimal physical effect, whether it’s on the driver, animals, or pedestrians, and with an almost infinite amount of situations that may occur, it would only seem right if the car’s computers decide the best possible situation and execute it (“Maybe” 12). Taking a step back, researchers at Google argue that instead of deciphering weather to give a difficult situation to the driver, they should let the self-driving computer take control of the “sticky situations”, due to them having the ability to “respond faster and more accurate”, said the director of Google’s self-driving project (Nelson 7).
Another high priority is the solution for road and weather conditions and the vehicles making correct decisions, in such conditions. Such a problem, may simply need a closer look at the technology and teach the vehicle to make certain decisions in certain situations and determine when it should be best controlled by the driver, or the computer, while others suggest that they “terminate the driver” in anything more than light rain, taking an easy way out of the situation (Swearingen 7). In oversite, a push for transparency overall, will not only help the advancement of self-driving cars and the industry, it will help mitigate “the legal problems in the long run”, and let the owners understand the risks of a fully autonomous car (Feschuk 5). Some strengths that will follow will be, as stated, limited long-term legal problems, and may reduce overall casualties or injuries in events due to this technology. One weakness to self-driving is that, although we are close to mostly autonomous vehicles, we are not too close to completely autonomous vehicles. In that case in the meantime, although reduced, crashes and accidents will still be frequent In conclusion, the best solution to the many problems pertaining with self-driving cars would be to research and determine the safest and most agreed-upon policy regarding ethical decisions, that the car’s computer will have to make.
Allowing the driver to set conditions for what they want their car to do, in one of a few agreed upon and best options, for such decisions. Also, tying the transparency aspect will give the driver the opportunity for the computer to drive in the sticky situations. However, also “providing [some] best decisions”, if the driver wants, says a Google lead engineer. In a sense, giving a multitude of solutions to satisfy multiple types of customers (Feschuk 7). In relation to transparency, the Google self driving program has set up surveys and will combine them to determine the median opinions of people, to determine the actions of the computer in situations regardless of “cultural or societal point of view”. Receiving input from users and future customers, will allow transparency and get a majority opinion (Feschuk 8).
If people disagree, Google will receive limited backlash due to the setting are favored by the majority of people in the survey. With the national and global increase in the use and innovation of self-driving vehicles on public roads, the subject should be anything but half-assed. Sooner than later, these self-driving cars will outnumber the then old manually controlled vehicles. Through thorough research, testing, and consumer interaction, these companies can try their best to perfect this industry, as well as their products. With the much needed research and money spent, the end result of this process can provide immense benefits to society in the very near future. Companies taking their time and doing what’s right, can get this industry to be the best it can be and one of the largest innovations of our lifetime.
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