Self-driving cars driven to making crash-free roads
If you’ve already bought into the idea that a robot can vacuum your floors better than you can, then it may not be a stretch to think a robot might drive better, too. Self-driving cars may be just around the corner.
Toyota and Audi announced they are entering the race with Google for self-driving cars. Both auto brands are testing self-driving cars, and they are showing off their test results at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas.
Think of all the time you spend behind the wheel. Self-driving cars have the promise of turning those wasted hours into productive ones. From a pure safety perspective, self-driving cars also have the promise of saving lives. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for all age groups from three to 33; the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety attributes over 90% of crashes to human error.
Self-driving cars are intended to be crashless – or at least be collision-free under normal operation. That has some obviously profound implications. The title of a report by KPMG and the Center for Automotive Research sums it up: Self-Driving Cars: The Next Revolution. While some of the cars are billed as self-driving, others are steering clear of that label. They say the cars will enhance a driver’s skill and be similar to the “auto pilot” settings on airplanes. That means human drivers can take over the wheel at any point along the road.
The cost and expense of auto insurance could be impacted by letting a robot do the driving. The whole idea behind self-driven cars could be a reality by the end of the decade, according to the people making them. A sure sign that they are getting closer to figuring it all out is the Driveless Car Summit held this past summer in (where else?) Detroit.
Already, many of us are easing into the idea of telematic devices, such as the usage-based programs that monitor driving behavior and provide insurance discounts for careful drivers. There are legal and regulatory details that need to be addressed, and it will all be interesting to watch this revolution unfold.