Self Driving cars are becoming more of a reality each day as companies like Tesla motors gather extensive data to program full autonomy. Unfortunately, there are many issues concerning this new technology.
Ethics and morals are concerns of engineers, drivers, and pedestrians. The Observer provided an interesting article here. How does autopilot decide who lives or dies based on the scenario that is given to the Artificial Intelligence. That is one, if not the all important question that is surrounding the new tech. Simply, the vehicle is probably going to choose whoever has the higher chance to survive an accident.
Researchers at MIT stated that they wanted, “[to] cover all the complexities of traffic laws, where pedestrians are either jaywalking or following the walk signal. That affects whether you kill more or less people”. This is important because in different parts of the country, or world for that matter. People violate all kinds of traffic laws on a regular basis. Where else do you think we got the California roll through a stop sign?
Additionally, who is going to be liable for an accident? The manufacturer, regulators, or the driver. This is a multifaceted issue, and it certainly has many levels of responsibility. We’re going to have to establish this before the masses begin to use autonomous driving. Fortunately, if everyone adopts it quicker, then the cars can just avoid having accidents.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, recently unveiled new technology that would allow Tesla vehicles to be fully autonomous. Wired discusses many of the key points here. This tech is far ahead of competitors, and is currently being equipped on Tesla vehicles now. Additionally, Tesla would only need to send an over the air activation to allow drivers to utilize this awesome tech.
Right now Tesla claims it can have one of it’s vehicles drive from San Francisco to New York City without any driver input other than selecting a destination. No other manufacturer has claimed this. Additionally, Tesla released a video to boost it’s press release here. The video is edited; however, it shows that Tesla has something credible here.
Tesla has an enormous amount of driving data, because of the available Tesla Autopilot V1.0. This autopilot has gathered enough data for Tesla engineers to program, and equip vehicles with the necessary equipment to achieve the highest level of autonomy. Google is second in driving data, but is years behind releasing similar technology.
While allowing drivers the ability to use Tesla’s autopilot, there have been confirmed reports of fatalities. Statistically, 120 million miles per one death compared to without autopilot, 60 million miles per one death. So Autopilot v1.0 is certainly better than human driving already, imagine what full autopilot would do.
Overall, autopilot has significant value in our society. Over 30,000 people are killed each year in the United States from vehicular accidents. Autopilot could prevent driving error, and Elon Musk is attempting to have autopilot become two times better than a human.
Unfortunately, the federal and state regulation will slow the adoption of autopilot, “Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction”. We’re in the infancy of Autopilot for cars, but so were planes…