Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Self Driving Cars

I used to watch the Jetsons when I was a child. I would dream of a day when we would have the kinds of things shown in that cartoon series, and now it seems as if we are almost there for some things.

The other day I read an article about a self driving car designed by VW that works pretty well if the road is well marked. Google has been working on the same thing, but they claim their technology is better. Bottom line is that probably in my lifetime, a self driving car will become a reality – if you can afford it.

What the technology is working to achieve of course is prevent accidents, which causes thousands of deaths in this country. For example in 2009 alone there were more than 5.5 million car accidents in the United States with 31,000 of them fatal. Millions of people are injured and many of those injured in a way that significantly changes the rest of their lives. Many of these accidents, in fact pretty much all of them, could have been prevented if the driver simply paid attention to what they were doing. That means not talking on your cell phone, not reading the newspaper on the steering wheel, not putting your makeup on or shaving while driving, etc. This means basically, as my husband says, not driving while stupid.

In fact the article about the self driving car even says: The TAP technology requires the driver to at least be aware of the road at all times, and was designed to allow users to avoid accidents because they were inattentive. "One conceivable scenario for its initial use might be in monotonous driving situations, e.g. in traffic jams or over sections of a driving route that are exceedingly speed-limited," Leopold said in a statement.

So whether there ever comes a time where you can get in a car and have it drive you somewhere we as humans need to be mindful of the actions we are doing. Until we can open technology to the point where a blind person can drive a car, sighted people have to pay attention to the job of driving even if the car assists.

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