It’s amazing how many media outlets talk about how great it is that the autonomous vehicle is now available in vehicles like Tesla where the vehicle will drive itself.  Modern cruise control was actually invented in 1948 and it wasn’t standard on vehicles like Cadillac until around 1960.  In fact, the first cars to boast the new technology were the 1958 models of the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor. The system worked by calculating ground speed based on driveshaft rotations.

I remember hearing a story back in the 1970’s when conversion vans were popular about some dummy who set the cruise control thinking it was like autonomous driving that is touted today and went in the back of his van.  It didn’t take long for the upcoming curve to send him flying into a ditch and fortunately nobody was killed or injured.  Recently, there was a video of a guy in California sleeping while driving his Tesla as the vehicle sped down the road.  Another really bad idea.

What’s the deal that so many people are not wanting to actually drive their vehicles?  It’s pretty crazy considering that driving can be such a great experience for the owner of a cool car who enjoys controlling the vehicle.  Is the autonomous vehicle really right around the corner or is it just Wall Street hype again to boost stock prices of automobile manufacturers?  I’m going with the latter and apparently Automobile Magazine agrees with me at least that automated vehicles are further out than people are being led to believe.

In their article back in January called, “Fully Automated Vehicles Are Likely Further Away than Some Would Have You Believe – And that’s if driverless cars ever arrive at all” the author explains that the idea for a driverless vehicle started with the military after 9/11.  After that there was a contest to deliver a pizza with a driverless vehicle, which is kind of crazy, but it’s an interesting read.  You can read the full article by clicking here and it’s an interesting read about how the idea of a fully automated vehicle is more of a dream still than reality.

Personally, I have a problem with the fact that most people who are not in the automotive industry are not thinking about and that is having a computer system make moral decisions behind the wheel.  For example, what if there is a woman pushing a baby across the street with not enough time to brake or a doctor and a lawyer walking on the other side or the driver or passengers in the vehicle could be killed if a split second decision is not made.  The computer can determine which way to go, but someone or potentially multiple people are going to die.  I don’t want a corporation programming life and death situations into a software application and allowing their artificial intelligence making life and death decisions on my behalf, while I’m driving their vehicle.  This is a real issue that has to be addressed from a morality issue because accidents do happen and it’s probably being discussed now behind closed doors.  Accidents will still happen whether a computer or a person is behind the wheel an I prefer to have control of those decisions.

Keep in mind, that manufacturers have been sued in the past for crunching numbers and deciding that putting an inexpensive part to prevent a vehicle from rolling or an exploding gas tank was more expensive than the payouts for human life.  This has happened before and I suspect it will happen again when autonomous vehicles are introduced as the next best thing.

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy
John is an auto consultant who owns, a licensed car dealership in Lone Tree, CO. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide!
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