Will self-driving cars ever be 100% safe, as most manufacturers claim them to be?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Self-driving cars (SDC) seem to be an inevitable development in automobile technology. I hope the technology improves to the point where driving in a car is even safer than airline travel, which is currently the safest form of mechanical transportation. But I don’t believe SDCs will ever become 100% safe and remain practical and affordable.

The main reason is my doubt that any programmer or algorithm can anticipate every possible traffic condition and “see” far enough ahead to sense the status of the road. Living in Minnesota and dealing with ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, flash flooding, and extreme straight-line winds (up to 100 mph), I know that a patch of black ice may form on a bridge an instant before my car arrives on that bridge. With virtually no warning until the car goes into a spin, I’m at the mercy of fate and my defensive driving skills if I hope to survive.

And until every single car on the road is self-driving, human error will play a factor. How can a computer anticipate that one driver out of the five or six driving near my car on a busy freeway will suddenly be distracted by his cell phone, or nod off because he’d been driving for hours with no rest, and veer into my lane? Something like that doesn’t seem possible to detect with current technology.

Even if SDCs are eventually mandated by law, there will always be people who want to control their vehicle by driving faster or slower or more recklessly than their SDC would allow. Or someone may find a way to hack into their vehicle or other vehicles for sabotage or terroristic purposes. We already know that hacking a car’s computer is possible with present-day cars that rely heavily on computers.

I’ll be glad when I can afford an SDC of my own, especially as I age and my driving skills diminish. But we can’t, and we shouldn’t believe, that SDCs will ever be 100% safe.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Self-driving cars eliminate the human factor from driving, and they won’t be a workable option until we take the step to completely eliminate humans from the equation. As long as the self-driving cars share the road with unpredictable, capricious, texting, occasionally chemically impaired and irrational humans, there will continue to be catastrophes.  No computer can ever possibly account for the myriad of stupid things of which people behind the wheel are capable.

It’s a futuristic concept seen in movies such as “The Fifth Element,” “I, Robot” and “Minority Report:” an entire traffic grid full of vehicles controlled by a master control computer, with human control of the vehicles only possible by direct command, and highly discouraged.  If a computer is controlling all the vehicles on a roadway at the same time, it can move the vehicles in concert and anticipate when given drivers need to exit, change direction or stop.  Traffic signals will be unnecessary, as will speed cops, DUI checkpoints and all the other ways small-town police departments generate a substantial portion of their revenue.

But to get there, humans have to learn to trust the Machine.  Thanks to other movies like “Terminator,” we’re by no means ready to do that.  The idea of abandoning control of our cars to some faceless AI creation is anathema.  We’re OK with our cars putting on the brakes for us when we’re not paying attention or pulling off parallel parking when it’s been far too long since driver’s ed, but for now that’s about where the trust ends.

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent-Another short and sweet answer here. Yes. But only if EVERY car on the road is self-driving. If humans are still at play in any vehicle the system won’t work. This is because the self-driving cars can control themselves and make logical choices on the road, but they can’t account for human emotions/thoughts. If all cars are self-driving, we wouldn’t have those issues. Am I saying that’s what I want? Not at all. I’m just pointing out the single most obvious flaw.

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