Other Perspectives on AVs

gm_firebird_iii_conceptWe’ve posted many articles over the years on the emerging technology that will someday make “Autonomous Vehicles” a reality.

Most traffic safety professionals see this as a hopeful sign that traffic fatalities could be reduced dramatically since 90% of crashes are tied to driver’s choices, attitudes, and actions while behind the wheel.

road train automatedStill, not everyone is comfortable with an 80,000 pound tractor trailer (aka ground based “drone”) hurtling down the highway on its own — destined for some far distant warehouse or retail center.

It’s easy to appreciate the trepidation of folks who, in their mind’s eye, see robot trucks running amok, creating devastation and putting CDL drivers out of work.

Recently, an editorial titled “I’ll Keep My Steering Wheel, Thank You Very Much” appeared (click HERE for full story) summarizing both the ongoing advancement in technology and the concerns of “what if” the technology isn’t everything we hoped that it would be….from the article:

I’ll say right now that I’m not too pleased with where these folks think things are heading, especially as a majority seem to believe critical components such as steering wheels, throttle and brake pedals are going to disappear by 2035…Hey, I WANT a steering wheel in a vehicle – and a brake pedal for that matter! “Autonomous” technology may be all well and good for buses, trains, and the like, but if I want to go somewhere in my car I actually want to be able to drive it there!

Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the author was being a bit sarcastic to make a point — we may not be comfortable with the thought of what’s coming down the road in the future, but we’re not there yet, either.

Over time, we have been witnessing the gradual introduction and fine tuning of individual technologies that “assist” drivers with safe or efficient driving (i.e. lane departure, forward looking radar, nighttime vision assist, movable headlamps, etc).  Over the next couple decades, we’ll see these independent systems linked and become more readily available in all vehicles as a “standard” feature instead of a “Buck Rogers” add-on.

What do you think?  Are your ready for vehicles with no steering wheel?  Or are you uncomfortable with that notion?

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One thought on “Other Perspectives on AVs

  1. I don’t know much about the AVs but it seems to me if/when there IS an accident, it could be catastrophic in nature, much more so than if there was a driver behind the wheel. If there was a malfunction, a tractor trailer could blast through a median, affecting on coming traffic or the brake system could fail and the truck plows through other vehicles, etc. Obviously, there must be very rigorous testing on AV’s before they hit the market. I’m skeptical, probably because it’s new technology and I don’t know better. Conversely, you can’t blame companies for replacing drivers w/ AVs as a cost saving measure. Technology replaces employees often, this is nothing new.

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