A few weeks ago, I was glancing through my twitter feed and something stopped me dead in my tracks.
Google, one of the most successful companies in history, not only created a car that can drive itself but tested their creation for more that 300,000 miles without a single accident.
Being both a techie and a driving/car enthusiast, this was right up my alley.
According to the article on thenextweb.com, Google tests at least a dozen of these vehicles near their HQ in Mountain View, CA.
Currently, Google personnel sit back in the driver’s seat and let these vehicles operate their way along roads dealing with normal traffic conditions.
The Google “operators” do these tests in pairs and can regain full control of the vehicles if needed.
Google stated in the article that the next logical step would be to let the cars drive in inclement weather as well as to allow members of the self-driving team to use the cars solo for commuting to work and such.
There is still, obviously, a lot more room for improvement.
One of the most noticeable things that needs to be further refined are the giant cameras/sensors that are attached to the roof of the vehicles.
I’m no marketing analyst, but I don’t think consumers would want a satellite dish attached to their car’s roof.
The massive sensor arrays that Google attaches to the cars cost about $250,000.
If anyone can do it, however, I have faith that Google can.
I have a few questions and concerns however.
Implications and Issues
Have you ever seen Terminator 2?
Well, let me start this over. I am by no means a kook or a “doomsdayer,” but I do think that this technology may be a little ahead of what we are ready for as a people and for our infrastructure.
First of all, with the amount of vehicles on the road at any one time, imagine, just for a second, the regulatory computing power that will be needed.
I totally understand that these vehicles’ computing processes are a closed system but when integrated with other vehicles, the municipalities they will be driving in, and the road topology, we are looking at, in the least, a national internet just for these purposes.
This “internet” will require an unbelievable amount of computing power.
I am not saying that this super-computer(s) will become self-aware and start killing us off one by one.
More realistically, I think that this is something we should really be cautious of because of the amount of change that will come with it.
Jobs will be lost, especially those in public service like police, fire, and road maintenance.
There will be no more speeding, no more accidents, and no drunk driving!
Sure it would be nice to be productive and safe while driving but there are a lot more practical and important things that I think we should be investing our time and money in as a society.
At the local level, yes we can make a difference, but who can make a huge step in the right direction for all of these issues aside from the government – companies like Google.
I am not telling them what to do; it is ultimately their decision. I think, however, that it is possible to make change for the better and still be profitable.
Whether it be investing in truly renewable energy or green technology, or coming up with new and innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint, there is money to be made in improving our world for the better.
Besides, I love the feeling of actually driving my car; but that is coming from a true gear head.
A list of implications and issues in relation to this truly magnificent feat (I really do mean that) can go on and on, but I would like to hear responses from the readers on this issue.
Take some time, think about it, and let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading.