With the advancement of technology, the once unimaginable self-driving car is now moving closer to becoming a reality. While the general public can toy with the thought of what these futuristic science-fiction ideas can do for their lives, we have to, at the end of the day, be realistic to what can and cannot happen. That leads me to the million dollar question: Can we inherently believe that these machines can take us from point A to point B without any errors? While many critics can rebuttal with the subway and train system as examples, the world, and our technology, is simply not ready for something this drastic.
Now I am not saying that the idea should not be attempted. In fact, I do believe there are incredible benefits to self-driving cars. For instance, many of these cars can provide the options for independence for elderly and visually impaired loved ones. In addition, self-driving vehicles can provide the freedom and relaxation for drivers coming back to work. As brilliant and life changing self-driving car would be, we have to understand the technologies overall limitations. Anything dealing with technology will, in most cases, endure a drastic amount of flaws. That is the nature of the game. While self-driving cars are designed to navigate safely through the streets with sensors detecting objects as far as two football fields away in any and all directions, the technology has already a variety of speed bumps. The main one is its lack of recognition for United States roadways.
In various tech articles, self-driving cars are getting a lot of criticism for their struggle to cope with United States roads. With shoddy infrastructure and badly maintained roadways, engineers are vexed in developing the right technology for these cars to perform at optimal levels. In fact, many automakers are forced to develop more sophisticated sensors and maps to compensate for its lack of performances. For many of these cars, they utilize cameras, radars and lasers (sensors) as their eyes and ears with their surrounding environment. But even with their achievements, they are still unable to overcome this hurdle. Boston Consulting Group has gone as far as to estimate that the science fiction robot car manufacturers may have to spend more than $1 billion dollars over the next decade to research solutions in developing more sophisticated features.
Now even if these self-driving cars are able to detect the shoddy roads, they will still need to accommodate and analyze human intelligence as a part of their technology. For example, simple instances such as a hand gesture signal or wide turn signals should be already ingrained in its software. While we have not heard of any of these features just yet, these are definitely ideas that should be taken into consideration if we want to make this technology efficient and effective for the everyday driver.
The only thing we can do now is to wait and see what the next self-driving car can have for us. Hopefully, they can provide the necessary needs for its next test.