Since 2010, Google has been working on an ambitious project to develop self-driving cars that can take you anywhere without having to worry about safety. Even more astonishing is the fact that these cars lack steering wheels and pedals. All that’s required is tapping in your destination on a display screen, and then pressing “Go”.
If self-driving cars seem scary, then you may be comforted to know that Google built its latest ‘hands-free’ self-driving car with safety as its top priority. This vehicle can calculate turns easily and safely, and is equipped with sensors that can react to sudden dangers on the road faster than a human.
Google hopes this car will empower consumers to be able to focus either on remaining productive on their way to work (bummer), or perhaps just enjoying the scenery with a book or media device in hand (now we’re talking). Other benefits include significantly lowering the risks associated with impaired driving (read and drink all you want because these cars will do all the driving), and securing the freedom of mobility for the elderly indefinitely. According to Google, this is a completely self-operating machine that navigates the road better than a human. The car is also electric, and is Google’s vision for the future of driving and mass transit.
Despite all the smiles and joyful laughing portrayed in the video, there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the idea of a completely hands-free, fully autonomous car. Do people really want to give up that much control, and have their livelihoods completely in the hands of a computer program? Just as humans are prone to making mistakes, so too are products prone to defects, malfunctions, and sudden break-downs.
Others still are wondering why Google didn’t include the option of an override system in case a problem does occur. Although pilots flying commercial airliners utilize autopilot for extended periods of time, the ability to take control of the plane when something goes wrong has proven indispensable. If anything, Google should perhaps consider adding the option of a manual override system just to give users peace of mind.
At the moment, the top speed of these prototypes is 25 mph. In addition, these fully autonomous cars still have to undergo years of testing. Rest assured, Google will slowly and carefully integrate this technology, and expend enormous amounts of research and testing before such a self-driving car is ever brought to market.