Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dreading Driverlessness

Who in tarnation, or outside of tarnation for that matter, would want to ride in a driverless car?

Then again, if there are as many nervous drivers as there are stupid ones, I’ve answered my own question.

At this point, I'm not even sure I want to be on the same road as driverless cars!

Authorities are now suggesting Tesla was dangerously hasty in its aggressive marketing of driverless technology.

For some people, owning a driverless vehicle seems to be a “prestige” thing, but, so far, that hasn’t worked out so well for everyone.

When it comes to driving, my "prestige" thing is being able to drive competently.

I think good drivers enjoy driving. I enjoy the fun of operating a machine. I enjoy being able to operate it competently. Of course, there’s the inherent challenge, as daunting as it is, of trying to anticipate the actions of the multitude of stupid drivers around us.

There must be a lot of rich auto insurance board employees out there because 92.7 percent of the motorists I encounter on the roads, surely bribed examiners to get their permits!

The 92.7 percent figure I mention is based on irrefutable empirical data collected as a result of decades of wholly subjective longitudinal observational study.

Be that as it may, I like driving.

Courtesy: Wikipedia
Still, I can’t even imagine the dangers and hassles that come with components breaking on a driverless car. The “rear park aid” sensors on my car won’t even work properly; they work for a while, and then don’t work anymore.

It’s just annoying.

What happens when sensors on a driverless car malfunction? If you’re lucky, you live to bring the thing into the shop for repairs!

When the sensors that trigger “automatic emergency braking” in a driverless car fail, making an appointment for a repair may be a case of too little too late.

Neither the “automatic emergency braking” or “forward collision warning” functioned properly when a Tesla Model S slammed into the side of a truck in May, killing the former Navy Seal who was its passenger/driver. Tesla said autopilot failed to detect the white truck against the brightly lit Florida sky.

That’s very possibly one of a gazillion unlikely scenarios that can never be anticipated by ambitious designers.

The most recent crash of a Tesla with its autopilot engaged was in Cardwell, Montana last weekend, when a Model X swerved and hit two wooden rails. The car issued alerts in English, but the driver spoke Mandarin. He wasn’t injured.

Already, stupid drivers can’t drive safely; how in tarnation, or outside of tarnation for that matter, will they learn to operate technologically sophisticated vehicles responsibly?


More bells, whistles, alarms, chimes, warnings and alerts are not what inattentive or inexperienced drivers need. By definition, gadgets won't help them respond safely.

I certainly hope driverless vehicles whose occupants are watching movies instead of the road, don't eventually become a danger to good drivers out there.

Drivers are not ready for the technology and the technology is not ready for our roads.

There have been a few other collisions involving vehicles with autopilot engaged. All of them are under investigation.

Today, safety advocates, including Consumer Reports, have called on Tesla to disable "auto steer" until the technology is re-programmed to require the driver's hands remain on the steering wheel. It's also calling for more stringent testing and certification by independent third-party bodies of any and all self-driving features.

As time goes on, we seem to relish doing less and less for ourselves; less walking, less talking, less driving, and less thinking.

I absolutely would like to own an environmentally friendly electric vehicle that does what I’d like a car to do, but only when I tell it what to do. Hold the self-driving gizmos, please.

A recent report by HIS Automotive predicts that between 2025 and 2035, sales of self-driving cars will climb from 600,000 to 21 million.

No one's as eager as drunks and texters. 

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