Google finally announced the first build of it “self-driving car” just before Christmas 2014. This is exiting based on the various advantages and benefits Google predicts this technology will bring to the table.
- It will reduce the amount of accidents caused by drivers
- It will take up less space on roads
- Since it is a controlled system they can reduce air pollution
The company is aiming to have the first batch of cars running on California roads within the first half of 2015. Even in the light of the accomplishment of having cars that can drive themselves, the road ahead for the technology to become widely adopted still remains a rocky road (all pun intended). In the US 17 states including D.C. have considered legislation authorizing self-driving cars, but only California, Florida, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. have enacted any form of law.
Personally I would have loved to see the company put more effort behind current problems causing accidents, driver fatigue. Where I fully support their moonshot ideas I feel that due to red tape and consumer adoption trends it will take a couple of years before we actually start seeing the benefits of self-driving cars. Right now it looks like just another niche product that has all the good intentions but no true support from the powers that be.
The problems at hand right now surely must have a faster and more cost effective solution, if not several, that could be achieved and adopted to make a difference within the next year. By developing technology that can enhance and monitor drivers and their driving behavior, Google could have established itself with more authority in the automotive industry and launch self-driving cars with more ease built on trust.
As wonderful as it might seem to just sit in a car and not have to worry about the road, I think that as drivers we are to conditioned to be in control than to simply allow a computer to take over our fate. Then again I do not think our children might have the same perspective on the amount of control in the future. For them it will be part of life as they know it by the time they reach the age of getting a drivers license and taking their first trip to the city or exploring the country side.
Where I would like to see Google go with self-driving cars is expanding it to the public transport industry. In South Africa a large portion of commuters make use of private buss services to transport them from the rural areas into the city on a daily basis for work. This industry is unfortunately a popular news maker for the amount of accidents and death tolls associated with those accidents. I am hoping that it will simply be a matter of time before Google moves into this domain. First show that it works with a small clown car before trying to control a bus.