While TTAC‘s Mike Smitka published an essay urging readers to reign in their expectations regarding autonomous cars, a new report by MIT’s Technology Review pours even more cold water on the utopian fantasies of those waiting for the day when humans are no longer in control of the automobile.
In the entire time Google has been working on delivering an autonomous future upon the driving populace, only one accident was reported, and was caused by human error. That said, the tech giant would prefer you not to know that or of any similar future incidents.
Once thought to be the possible next CEO of Microsoft after his time as CEO of Ford drew to a close, Alan Mulally has instead turned up in Mountain View, Calif. as Google’s newest board member.
Please welcome TTAC’s newest contributor, Professor Mike Smitka. Mr. Smitka teaches a course on the Economics of the Auto Industry at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and is regarded as an authority on the automotive world. He also makes time to read and comment on TTAC.
Google’s senior executives are busily touting the wonders of autonomous vehicles. There’s the technological marvel, at least in the eyes of Silicon Valley. There are the economic benefits – no more congestion, no more accidents. Wonder of wonders! – and great for the Google empire, and for its stock price.
At yesterday’s Google I/O keynote speech, Google laid out its vision for Android Auto (reported here yesterday), which is quite similar to Apple’s CarPlay. I’ve ranted here before about Apple’s CarPlay when it was first announced and after more details came out last March. Both have the idea that your phone can hijack the screen in your car. What’s newsworthy from Google is that we have an enlarged list of vendors who are playing along. (Wired has the full list. Suffice to say that you’ll have plenty of choices if you want a car that goes both ways, if you know what I mean. Most interesting factoid: Tesla isn’t playing with either Apple or Google. Hear that? It’s the sounds of thousands of alpha-nerd Tesla owners crying out in terror.)
Today, I want to address why you should stop worrying and learn to love having your phone in charge of your car’s telematics display.
Google’s entry into the connected-car game stepped up to the next level this week when Android Auto was unveiled before the developers in attendance at the 2014 Google I/O Keynote Address.
Ever been cut-off by a driver and wanted to let them know exactly how you feel without the need for a PIT bumper? Did you happen to see someone attractive pass you by, but didn’t want to be as obvious as Clark Griswold about it? If you’re in China, General Motors is about to make that dream come true in the creepiest way possible.
Google’s entry into the world of connected vehicles is in the final phases of development, but those who can’t wait to see its interface will have their chance when the system debuts at the tech company’s annual Google I/O Conference next week.
Writing in the National Post, Matt Gurney discusses a darker side of autonomous cars, one that many people (especially this writer, who is not exactly familiar with the rational, linear type of operation that is involved with coding)
In a recent interview with PopSci, Patrick Lin, an associate philosophy professor and director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at California Polytechnic State University, proposed a hypothetical scenario that sums up the problem. You’re driving along in your robo-car, and your tire blows out. The computer in control rapidly concludes that your car is moving too quickly and has too much momentum to come to a safe stop, and there is traffic ahead. Since an accident is inevitable, the computer shifts from collision avoidance to collision mitigation, and concludes that the least destructive outcome is to steer your car to a catastrophic outcome — over a cliff, into a tree — and thus avoid a collision with another vehicle.
The raw numbers favour such an outcome. Loss of life and property is minimized — an objectively desirable outcome. But the downside is this: Your car just wrote you off and killed you to save someone else.