The downside of Google's driver-less car

While the thought of getting into a car that has no steering wheel, gas pedal or brake may seem insane, the developers at Google believe that it makes perfect sense to eliminate these things. Of course, the car it is developing will be able to accelerate, stop and steer, but a human won’t be doing it. Instead, an elaborate guidance system would guide the car through the streets and past potential hazards.

The potential for fewer accidents and traffic jams is certainly attractive. After all, computerized guidance systems will not succumb to the hazards that human drivers can fall prey to, including drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding, to name a few. With this in mind, it is reasonable to think that drivers may be safer in these cars.

However, advancements in safety may be realized at the expense of individual freedoms. Drivers will have to sacrifice the allure of powerful 0-60 accelerations, smooth handling and sturdy steering, and the confidence that comes with driving an elite vehicle.

It remains to be seen whether tomorrow’s drivers will be willing to give up these freedoms. More importantly, will auto manufacturers be okay with not providing them? America’s auto industry has solidified its foundation by playing on the sense of individualism that comes from driving a Mustang, Corvette, Cadillac or Prius.

In the meantime, drivers may benefit from some of the autonomous features that come with today’s newest models, including parking assist, lane integrity systems, and collision awareness. Nevertheless, they will still have to use reasonable care while behind the wheel.

Source: Theguardian.com “Google’s driverless cars are a boon for safety and climate, but not for privacy,” Dan Gillmor, June 2, 2014

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