Self-driving cars without humans behind the wheel will be on the roads quicker than we may have expected, and it is pretty intimidating.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company will start making a line of fully self-driving vehicles as early as next year to be used as robotic taxis in competition with popular ride-hailing services. But his plans sound like an unachievable dream at best. With more than 60 companies working toward the same goal, Musk will have to come up with a sales pitch that will satisfy investors and lawmakers – a feat not easily done considering the kinks in his ideas.
This pitch doesn’t currently look that hopeful. Even Musk said there could be some “fender benders” which Tesla will be liable for. When lawmakers in some states are considering whether or not to permit these vehicles on the roads, they will see that there is a potential for injuries or even death.
Musk hasn’t let the criticism stop him from making rash predictions about the future of self-driving cars. He predicted that “probably two years from now we’ll make a car with no steering wheels or pedals.” In a world where a self-driving car can hit a pedestrian because its sensors weren’t strong enough to take evasive action, this idea seems out of reach and dangerous for everyone interacting with the roadways.
With more reports turning up like this, it is steadily decreasing the public’s trust in self-driving cars. There is also a potential for the blame of an accident to be placed on the owner of the vehicle, as shown in a new bill being introduced in South Korea. While there is nothing like this yet in America, one could arise if the public’s safety continues to be threatened.
Not only do self-driving vehicles create a safety issue on the roadways, but it puts drivers out of a job. The focus now is on taxi drivers with Musk’s robotic taxi plan, but truck drivers have been facing similar displacements from this technology. Companies like Amazon are attempting to make their services more efficient and safer by switching to self-driving trucks, but an accident with these vehicles could cause even greater damages. Self-driving trucks that are not completely foolproof on highways with high-speed limits would make anyone feel wary about how quickly this technology is progressing.
The companies attempting to produce successful models of these cars are taking the process much too quickly and are turning it into a race. They are ignoring the fact that our technology might not be advanced enough to pull it off yet, especially considering these cars will have to interact flawlessly with manually-driven cars to even be allowed on the roads in most states. Safety should be the number one priority, but it seems like all that matters is who did it first.
Charlotte Caldwell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those ofThe Post. Want to talk to Charlotte? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.