With automakers stepping up production of self-driving cars, will these cars replace traditional cars in the distant future?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent– Considering that it took mankind thousands of years to replace the horse and carriage with the automobile, it’s reasonable to assume that it won’t take nearly as long to develop fully functioning driverless cars that are used by every driver on the planet. Exactly how far into the future this may happen is the question.

Car makers are rapidly developing driverless cars but naturally are eager to be first, or best, or safest, or most reliable. That rush to market often means glitches arise or compromises are made. These problems inevitably cause delays as glitches are fixed, or new factors are inputted into the algorithm that will be a computer system more capable than human drivers of assessing traffic, road conditions, weather, and all the factors that are analyzed by a driver to help them safely reach their destination.

Since so many competitors are vying for the driverless car market, and initial models will be prohibitively expensive, it figures that driverless cars will gradually replace human-operated cars. This may cause more unforeseen problems as both types of cars are forced to share the road and adapt to each other. Nevertheless, man’s desire to make life as simple and easy as possible for himself means that driverless cars are inevitable. If I were to guess, I’d say human-driven cars would become extinct by the end of the 21st Century.

However, being that scientific discovery has been on a parabolic rise since the Renaissance Era, it’s entirely possible that another form of mass transportation will be developed by then. It’s not hard to envision us zooming around the world in vehicles very similar to what were used in the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons. Alternatively, some other technological advance such as Virtual Reality may eliminate the need for anyone to travel farther from their homes than a short walk.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– Though research and development through car companies continues on an upward swing with self-driving car prototypes, there are still significant bugs to be worked out to make these cars fully operable in the non-human input sense.

There are lots of advantages to self-driving cars as they don’t get tired and fall asleep at the wheel, they aren’t easily distracted, they don’t daydream, and they are able to spot trouble from all directions and at greater distances. Actual driving is directed by computer software that is able to determine stopping distances, braking speeds, traffic flow and even fuel efficiency rates. Eventually, vehicles will be able to communicate with one another to alert for accidents and traffic conditions.

Currently, self-driving prototypes are able to perceive distinct objects all at the same time, like pedestrians, buses, crossing guards with signs, bicycle riders using hand signals, but they are not able to recognize everything that a human being can and respond to it in an appropriate fashion, which is an obstacle for car makers in developing sensing and detecting equipment.

Self-driving cars aren’t that adept at understanding and interpreting body language and foreseeing what humans are going to do next, plus they are vulnerable to remote hacking attacks. Despite the bad habits of real drivers, they can’t be controlled by a computer thousands of miles away, and that is one advantage of a human being in the driver’s seat.

Highway driving in good weather doesn’t appear to be a problem for self-driving cars as they are equipped with the necessary technology and equipment to make long distance trips. An adapted Audi, equipped through Delphi automotive specialists, recently made a coast-to-coast drive (with a human driver at the wheel) and completed the trip with the car doing almost 100 percent of the driving. Nissan and NASA have also teamed to work on self-driving technology and Nissan hopes to have self-driving capabilities in cars within a year.

Mapping is another obstacle with self-driving cars, not just because of roads, structures and geographical locations but due to other obstacles , such as road sign positions, curbs, guard rails and other physical barriers. Without the necessary maps, the capabilities of self-driving cars are reduced.

Self-driving cars also lack the ability to input information that drivers experience through their own senses as well as previous driving experience and acquired knowledge concerning other drivers, and their reactions to driving situations. This is one area that self-driving engineers have not been able to tackle.

It is obvious that there are many hurdles to overcome in making a vehicle fully uncontrolled by a human being and the challenge is extremely difficult, and for that reason self-driving cars will gradually evolve rather than suddenly appear as fully driverless. Technology has already allowed for cruise control, parking and backup assistance, GPS-satellite navigation systems, self-driving motors that control steering and speed, and other features, yet future self-driving cars will most likely have limits on fully operational capabilities because of safety aspects, risk factors, dependability and costs.

Self-driving cars will not replace traditional cars in the near future. Self-driving cars may continue to gradually gain new features through technological advances, but car manufacturers will have to do a lot of advanced human brain research in order to incorporate and input the necessary driver knowledge, reactions, and experience into a self-driven car. The human brain is a complicated and complex organ and replicating its functions in a self-driven car will be a daunting task, but the push will continue to replicate those features.

Government legislation will slow the production process and costs will likely be prohibitive for the average driver to purchase a driverless car, and many drivers will simply want to continue driving their own vehicles with a few added advances unless, of course, in the next 10 to 20 years or so the government mandates fully driverless cars for everyone, but hopefully that is just another foolish notion as there would likely be endless regulatory actions that stipulate who can own and operate a driverless car. Who will want to own one with the government in charge?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent– I’ve always been a huge fan of the works of Robert Heinlein, and while the characters are the focus of his works, he never forgot the “science” in the science fiction. He loved tinkering with ideas of how we’d get along in the future, and self-driving (indeed sentient) cars were one of his favorite creations. In “The Number of the Beast,” a self-driving and -flying car named Gay Deceiver was an actual character rather than being just another machine.

But that’s science fiction. What about real life? Will we ever hop in our car and tell it where we want to go, then relax in our seat and watch kitten videos while we’re whisked to our destinations? In my belief, the answer is “Not yet, and not for a long time to come.”

First off, our infrastructure will need substantial upgrades to make this a reality. There are vast areas of the country that don’t have sufficient data service coverage to make the kind of number-crunching self-driving cars will need possible. Also, if all the cars are to be tied into central data networks for overall coordination, those will have to be built and the security made as unbreachable as possible. The idea of a hacker getting into a transport network leads to nightmare scenarios.

But perhaps the more vital question is that of public attitudes. Some of us actually LIKE to drive. We take pleasure in piloting our vehicles, no matter how humble, and are loath to give up that enjoyment to a computer. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a system that would take over in heavy traffic, but when I’m on the open road I want the wheel in my hands and the accelerator at my command … and I drive a minivan! Eventually, old farts like me will have our licenses taken away and the younger set will rule the roads, but until then, no self-driving car for me.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent– I’m a huge fan of technology. In fact, technological advancements have afforded me the opportunity to earn from the comforts of my home. Truly, there’s no greater feeling.

However, I do believe technology should not replace some aspects of our daily affairs, including driving. Sure, self-driving cars have done their part and according to a recently read article, self-driving cars will actually diminish motor vehicular accidents. You’ll also find a few other nonsensical articles online about how the pros outweigh the cons, but I will always stick to the status quo.

In reality, do these self-driving cars possess a real brain? One that reacts to various circumstances and stimulus? Can these self-driving vehicles see or reasonably foresee what will happen while driving? I’ll leave that for you to think about.

To supplement, even if these cars should populate the market, a lot of Americans would not be able to afford such vehicle. Truly, the technology used to creating these vehicles are beyond reach for the typical American.

Also, think about those skeptics who hate change and definitely do not want to go anywhere near technology. Yes, you do have quite a few who believes that technology will be the end of the world. lol.

Think about it. I really do not want to put my hands into that of a software. Plus, humans are crazy, I know, but I prefer to stick with the evil I know rather than relying on software that still has to be maintained by humans. If it makes no sense. If you ask me, it’s just another sugar-coated way for these automakers to flood their bank accounts.

I say, “To hell with these self=driving cars”. They should not be used to replace manual driving.

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