What Do You Think of Self-Driving Cars?
As the world of autonomous vehicles continues to evolve, we sought the insights of twenty industry leaders and professionals, including CEOs and founders, on the topic of self-driving cars. From a manager’s optimistic viewpoint to the risk of mixed human-AI roads, dive into their diverse perspectives on this revolutionary technology.
- Manager’s Optimistic Viewpoint
- Safety and Economic Concerns
- Legal and Technological Challenges
- Rethinking Mobility and Autonomy
- Technical Leap and Potential Benefits
- Positive Personal Experience
- Emphasizing Safety and Convenience
- Solution to Traffic, Ethical Dilemmas
- Welcoming Self-Driving Cars
- Lawyer’s Accident Prevention Perspective
- Interest Amid Existing Challenges
- Trust Issues and Insurance Complications
- Shift in Human-Machine Interaction
- Agreeing with Environmental Benefits
- Urban Transformation and Job Displacement
- Concerns About Safety and Control
- Anticipating Increased Road Rage
- Arguing for Superior AI Drivers
- Efficient Traffic Monitors, Accident Record
- Risk of Mixed Human-AI Roads
Manager’s Optimistic Viewpoint
I firmly believe self-driving cars will be the future as a manager for a self-drive vehicle company. They are inevitable, mainly because of the savings and convenience they bring to the table. They’re basically as safe now as cars driven by people. I think it would be safer if computers controlled driving. An automated car won’t drive while intoxicated or high. It won’t get distracted by a phone. And it definitely won’t try to impress its buddies by doing something reckless.
Self-driving cars totally shift the way we think about transportation. Rather than just being a way to get around, cars can now complete tasks on their own. It will also save people time. If you need to pick up something, just send your car and you can stay home, focusing on work or family.
And think about your daily commute. Instead of your car sitting unused for hours, send it back home for someone else in the family to use. It’s all about efficiency and reducing the time a car sits doing nothing.
James McNally, Managing Director, SDVH [Self Drive Vehicle Hire]
Safety and Economic Concerns
Being known as the guy who knows everything about cars, I’d be happy to give you my perspective.
Self-driving cars are already being used today, and the opportunities they can bring may forever change how we approach traveling. Let’s not forget, however, the huge hurdles that self-driving cars have to overcome.
Safety is always the number one concern. Who is responsible in a crash with self-driving cars? And what happens should this crash be fatal? Let’s not forget the tragic accident Volvo had in 2018 when testing their self-driving technology. I don’t feel confident enough to be in a self-driving car around other road users.
My biggest issue, however, is with the economic impact it will have. Where self-driving cars make the most sense is on the highway. However, implementing self-driving technology here would jeopardize millions of jobs, as driving is still one of the largest employment sectors.
For those reasons, I am not yet sold on the need for self-driving cars.
Patrick Mccann, Founder and Editor, We Try Tires
Legal and Technological Challenges
Self-driving cars encompass two intertwined dimensions: legal and technological. Since liability would rest with the automaker, companies must ensure their autonomous vehicles surpass the driving skills of an average person, not merely match them.
Technologically, this positions self-driving car development at the forefront of AI challenges. Often described as the “long-tail problem,” the challenge lies in managing rare scenarios flawlessly, where humans might still outperform or match AI. Gathering data for these unique instances exposes both technological and data constraints.
I anticipate the progress of self-driving cars will run concurrently with the evolution of General Artificial Intelligence—an AI surpassing human intelligence, projected to emerge in about a decade.
Rethinking Mobility and Autonomy
Self-driving cars are more than just a technological marvel; they challenge our very notion of mobility and autonomy. Historically, learning to drive was a rite of passage, a symbol of independence. The open road represented freedom, adventure, and endless possibilities.
As we stand on the cusp of this autonomous revolution, we’re compelled to re-evaluate our relationship with machines and our place in the world. Will we become mere passengers in our own lives, or will this newfound “free time” during commutes spur creativity, reflection, and deeper human connections?
Moreover, as cities adapt to these vehicles, we might see a shift in urban design. Spaces once dedicated to parking could transform into parks, recreational areas, or community hubs. Traffic patterns might evolve, changing the very rhythm of city life.
While the promise of increased safety and efficiency is enticing, it’s essential to remember that the journey is as important as the destination.
Technical Leap and Potential Benefits
Self-driving cars are a major technological leap forward in the automobile industry and might drastically alter the way we travel.
From a technical perspective, these autonomous vehicles utilize sensors, cameras, lidar, and complex algorithms to guide them around the road in a safe and efficient manner. Accidents due to human mistakes might be reduced, traffic congestion alleviated, and more mobility alternatives made available to the disabled and the elderly with the help of this technology.
Self-driving automobiles could also reduce environmental impact by improving efficiency. Autonomous ride-sharing services allow for maximum vehicle usage, cutting down on the number of cars on the road and thereby reducing emissions and the industry’s negative impact on the environment.
Positive Personal Experience
I own a Cadillac Escalade that comes with the Super Cruise feature. Last month, my family and I went on vacation to Destin, Florida, which is situated on the Gulf of Mexico. We left Nashville, Tennessee at 8 a.m. sharp. As soon as we merged onto the interstate, we switched on the Super Cruise feature, and it worked flawlessly, ensuring our safety throughout the entire eight-hour drive.
Our vehicle even alerts the driver when they look down for too long, ensuring that we remain attentive at all times. I absolutely adore my car and cannot imagine driving anything else.
Emphasizing Safety and Convenience
Overall, I have only had positive experiences with self-driving cars. They are comfortable, convenient, and safe, eliminating the error of a human driver and the danger of getting into a car with a stranger. I take many self-driving car rides with Cruise while living in downtown Austin, and they feel surprisingly normal, despite the wheel turning on its own, and a few hiccups. The car was clean, the A/C was cold, and I could choose any music I wanted.
Safety is clearly a key consideration for the designers of self-driving cars. I could unlock the doors with an app on my phone and press a giant button in the backseat to pull over and let me out. If there were any glitches, I could press a different button to connect with a real person who could see my route and communicate with the car. Cruise cars are programmed to take the safest route possible, which means longer drive times, but I find this to be well worth the peace of mind.
Solution to Traffic, Ethical Dilemmas
Self-driving cars solve the biggest on-road problem, i.e., traffic. Traffic is the source of inefficiencies in the workplace, mental traumas, and more. A full-fledged network of proper self-driving cars will not only improve your quality of life but also contribute to faster overall growth of mankind. You can save hours, avoid accidents, and reduce the exhaustion that you get from driving a car on a road full of traffic.
However, this is not happening anytime soon. Current estimates suggest it will take approximately two decades, at least, for self-driving cars to start being implemented in certain countries. (Tesla isn’t a self-driving car.)
Self-driving cars also raise ethical dilemmas. For instance, if accidents happen, who will be responsible? The passenger? The car company owner? The government that allowed it? Whatever the case, self-driving cars are an inevitable part of growth in pursuit of technological advancements, and we’ll all be witnesses!
Welcoming Self-Driving Cars
I welcome the time when self-driving cars are widely available, though I think it will be decades before this is a common occurrence. Simply put, human drivers, as well as pedestrians, are far too erratic and unsafe.
However, I’m a huge advocate for systems like Blue Cruise and Super Cruise. A few months ago, my wife and I took a romantic road trip where there was a seven-hour drive one day. Being able to engage the “self-driving” feature allowed us to relax, avoid fatigue, and ultimately be better drivers.
Lawyer’s Accident Prevention Perspective
I represent victims of car accidents, almost all of which are caused by human error. Even though self-driving cars would essentially put my personal-injury law firm out of business, I still welcome the day where self-driving cars can prevent most accidents. However, I think we are decades away from self-driving cars being mainstream.
Interest Amid Existing Challenges
I find self-driving cars really interesting, but I think there are still problems to solve. Even though they seem great, we should remember that not all accidents happen because of people’s mistakes. Things like bumpy roads, sudden weather changes, and unexpected events can still be issues. Making self-driving tech handle all these problems is hard.
So, it’s important for technology to keep getting better before we can be sure self-driving cars will be safe and dependable in the future.
Trust Issues and Insurance Complications
I have mixed feelings about self-driving cars. In some ways, I’d appreciate sitting back and watching a movie on my daily commute. But on the other hand, I don’t trust a computer to handle all the nuanced possibilities the road can bring.
Additionally, self-driving cars are an insurance nightmare. They introduce so many variables, like who is at fault in an accident: the owner, the manufacturer, or the tech developer? Further complicating the issue is proving whether the driver caused a crash or if the vehicle is to blame.
Shift in Human-Machine Interaction
Self-driving cars are not just a technological marvel; they represent a shift in our relationship with mobility. By relinquishing control to algorithms, we gain time but relinquish our sense of agency on the road. While we may be physically free to read, work, or relax, we must adapt to being passive passengers, raising questions about the future of human-machine interaction and how society will redefine concepts of control, trust, and responsibility.
Some argue that when fully developed and widely adopted, self-driving cars could reduce accidents caused by human factors such as distraction, fatigue, and impaired driving. Self-driving cars and traffic infrastructure can theoretically communicate with each other, which could reduce traffic congestion and minimize the potential for accidents. I’m not sure how much stock I put into that myself, but theoretically, self-driving cars may represent an exciting innovation to human travel and safety on the road.
Agreeing with Environmental Benefits
Self-driving cars are often hailed for their environmental benefits, and I agree with this. When coupled with clean energy sources like electricity, autonomous vehicles could contribute significantly to reduced emissions and a more sustainable transportation system. This is because self-driving cars can be programmed for efficient driving, potentially lowering fuel consumption and, in turn, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So, from this perspective, self-driving cars aren’t just about convenience and safety; they also have the potential to make our planet greener by promoting eco-friendly driving practices.
Urban Transformation and Job Displacement
I see self-driving cars as a catalyst for urban transformation. They could lead to a reduction in the need for parking spaces, allowing cities to repurpose land for green spaces or community areas. This could significantly improve the quality of urban life.
However, there’s the challenge of job displacement, especially for those in driving-related professions. As with any disruptive technology, we need a balanced approach to mitigate negative impacts.
Concerns About Safety and Control
Self-driving cars are a great idea in theory, but I think the biggest challenge with them is going to be getting people to feel safe enough to use them.
I mean, would you get into a car that you didn’t know how it was going to react? You’d have no control over what happens once you’re in there. It’s not like riding a bike or driving a car where you can make split-second decisions based on what’s happening around you.
With self-driving cars, there’s no way to change the route or speed—you just have to hope that whatever algorithm is programmed into it works as well as possible! And even then, there are still so many factors that can affect how well your trip goes: weather conditions, traffic patterns, and any number of other things that could go wrong at any time.
The idea of self-driving cars is cool—I just hope we’re ready for them when we get there!
Anticipating Increased Road Rage
I can see self-driving cars encouraging increased road rage or in-car rage when the self-driving mechanism doesn’t respond to a situation a human driver naturally would. They are going to be frustrating, boring to sit in, and take away the freedom of driving.
Arguing for Superior AI Drivers
Driving, in essence, involves immensely long periods of nothing interesting—sometimes frustrating, sometimes perhaps fun—and very short periods where it’s crucial that your full attention is on it, and where you need to make reflex decisions. This is not what humans are good at. Humans get bored and distracted; they glance away from the road to look at the views, or to talk with the person they’re driving with, or whatever. Humans also don’t have great reflexes compared to computers.
Now, 10 years ago, driving also required skills that computers weren’t good at, namely object recognition. However, this is changing and has changed a lot already; computers have become pretty decent at object recognition. So, I would guess that the best self-driving car might already be a better driver than the average driver. And self-driving cars only become better drivers with time, as opposed to human drivers.
Efficient Traffic Monitors, Accident Record
Self-driving cars are efficient at tracking traffic and monitoring jams before you reach that specific area. These cars can communicate traffic with each other and adjust routes in real-time. This is helpful for avoiding bumper-to-bumper traffic jams in the first place.
Though it has its downsides too, self-driving cars have a proven record of car accidents. It happens due to disruptions in catching signals in real-time. Hence, it still needs time to fully adopt this technology and be on roads in a safer way. This needs to be worked on to avoid fatal crashes.
Risk of Mixed Human-AI Roads
Self-driving cars on the same roads as human drivers is a troublesome scenario. Humans often make driving decisions based on a myriad of factors—like eye contact or a subtle nod—that machines can’t process.
While autonomous vehicles follow algorithms, humans act on instinct, experience, and even emotional states. Combining these vastly different decision-making approaches on the same roadway is not only confusing but also increases the risk of accidents.