Driverless Cars at the Consumer Electronics Show

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/09/tech/innovation/self-driving-cars-ces/

This article describes some of the changing technology of driverless cars and how they are being applied to the cars of the future.  It describes the way that technology for driverless cars is shrinking, paving the way for their eventual commercial sale.  What’s most interesting about this piece is that it addresses many of the obstacles ahead for driverless cars and how these issues need to be tackled.  One of the biggest problems is the process of making a driverless car legal.  The legal implications of a car not having a person in control at all times are difficult ones to address.  The article discusses the safety features that will be included in many of the driverless cars already in development.  People driving won’t be allowed to sleep or interact extensively with anything other than the car’s built in entertainment or information system.  This is actually described as a safety precaution, as the car can warn the driver (who must always be in the driver’s seat) that he needs to take control of the car.  Laptops and newspapers are to distracting.  Insurance and liability also become difficult.  No doubt, accidents will happen eventually, and then who is to blame?  The recording of information is also problematic in terms of law making and regulation.

The article does leave many questions unanswered.  How many people are going to obey these rules about not leaving the front seat and not sleeping?  Who is going to be responsible if they do?  Will the car be able to stop itself if the “driver” leaves the front seat?  While many of these questions are important ones, they are no different than some of the problems that faced regular cars at the beginning of their creation, or the problems that face us today.  I think we’re going to see a long trial and error period with driverless cars, as we do with any new technology.

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