#51 The challenge of self-driving cars. Eddie Alterman: How do we fix it?

With technology in overdrive, self-driving cars are no longer a fantasy.  The first autonomous cars and trucks made by major auto manufacturers could be on the road within several years.

But "Fix It" guest Eddie Alterman, Editor-in-Chief of Car and Driver magazine says not so fast.  "It's a scary concept anyway you look at it," he tells us. 

"The autonomous car is a very inelegant, very complex and a very fraught solution to the problem of texting while driving... and of information coming into the car when people should be driving."

For Google, Apple, Microsoft and other big data companies, autonomous cars are a big opportunity. Instead of keeping their eyes on the road, motorists could use their driving time to consume more digital media. 

But Eddie Alterman says a mix of self-driving and traditional vehicles on the road would create danger. "People will deal with or accept flawed humans crashing into each other. I don't think people will accept supposedly fail-safe machines crashing into each other"

(above photo: Lokan Sardari

Solutions:

  • Understand the danger of mixing traditional cars with self-driving vehicles on the same roadway.
  • Promote the use of background technology to make driving safer. Examples: cruise control, vehicle stability, lane departure warning systems.
  • Adopt autonomous vehicles in "closed" environments such as industrial sites.
  • Encourage car-sharing and other initiatives to reduce commute times.  
  • Resist the temptation to encourage drivers to surrender control of their time behind-the-wheel.