A Different Look At Google Self Driving Car
Google's Self-Driving Car Project has almost as many headlines today as the miles they drive. Self-driving cars have driven over 1 million miles autonomously, causing a lot of discussion and concern about their impact on transportation.
Google is trying to tackle the other side of this issue. Google is not trying to change an industry or type of mobility. Instead, it wants to create "driving" that can drive for people who are disabled. It will make driving easier, safer, and more affordable.
Peter W. Singer, director of Brookings Institution, stated that "the key to what makes revolutionary technology" is not its new capabilities but its questions.
Google's mission is not well-covered as tech talk and accident arguments dominate. While we debate ethics, safety, and legality, it is already here.
The Other Questions
Instead of focusing on what these technologies are, Singer says that we get caught up in talking about technology from a perspective of what they no longer are.
We know better than anyone that driving is more than just about travel. A car's importance is not just its beauty or value, but the freedom and function it offers for daily living.
We accept this technology as our future. Let's now look at the philosophy behind Google's driverless car development.
Google's project website asks: "Imagine if everybody could get around easily, safely, and regardless of their ability to the driver." This project is motivated by the goal to make driving easier, safer, and more affordable.
In this instance, driving does not refer to the dictionary definition. This is the ability to move around independently, which in modern times usually means driving a car, bike, or other wheeled vehicles. Many people find this ability physically or legally impossible.
Sergey Brin, co-founder and CEO of Google, stated that "it is possible to create technology that allows people to live healthier, happier lives."
You can use the car every day, and you have all the conveniences that come with it. You can keep all the conveniences but no longer need to drive the car. This is what Google has promised for the future of its project.
How it works
When you think of not driving, images of chauffeurs and limos come to mind. Google offers a prototype fully self-driving car in curved white that is also available from Google.
Google's first functional prototype, a bubble-shaped prototype, began to make inroads on our roads in December 2014. Google started road-testing its tech in 2009 and realized that redesign was not the right solution.
The car could be built from scratch, and the software would dictate how it was shaped. What about a steering wheel? You can forget pedals. The car's software and sensors control driving.
Does that sound scary? Although we won't be debating the technology, Google claims that their cars have the ability to learn like any other driver. These cars can drive themselves for 75 years if you consider that the average adult drives 13,000 miles per year.
Autos for Autonomy
Driving is more than just traveling. It's about freedom and the ability to move around. Many people are legally or physically unable to drive a car. People with disabilities such as blindness, epilepsy, partial mobility, seniors, and immigrant families are just a few examples.
People who are otherwise functionally able to drive can't get around in a timely, convenient, or independent fashion. There are many transportation services available. But think of the conveniences that you have in your own vehicle.
We're not only traveling with our cars; we also use them to transport groceries, briefcases, and pets as well as children and grandchildren. Instead of relying on bus schedules or other availability, we can create our own schedules.
Google suggests that if a person could drive a personal car without the need for a human driver, then many people would have better access to healthcare, employment, and grocery stores.
Autonomy to Affordability
Google's major goal is to make transportation more affordable.
Cars can drive themselves home and there will be less parking. This frees up space for businesses and homes to develop, which could eventually lead to lower rent and property prices.
Autonomous driving eliminates human error and may make personal car insurance more affordable.
It is possible to save money on repairs and costs by assuming that the first self-driving car will be identical.
As cars become fully automated, it is less important to have protective structural and other features. Accidents are less frequent and more severe. Autonomy may also improve fuel economy and make it more affordable.
Too slow for what?
The easily recognizable prototype can be seen today, driving at 25 mph along the streets of Mountain View, California.
Complaints about the car's slow and hesitant driving ("like your grandma"), according to one Article, are less weight than what they may replace.
For those who have to travel short distances from their home to get to work or to shop, driving at 25 mph is a better option than walking, biking, or bussing.
Second, self-driving vehicles would mainly travel locally. It is not necessary to speed on city streets. Plus, there are already protected bike and bus lanes. Self-driving car commuters could benefit from similar accommodations, particularly if they can replace other safety and space factors like parking, congestion, and bus stops.
Safety is the last point. Human drivers can be distracted and take risks. Self-driving cars don't need to be perfect in order to be safe. They just have to be safer than human drivers.
A Better World
Google's self-driving vehicle is forcing us all to think in new ways about what is possible and what should be possible. This is something we have never thought of before. The question isn’t whether we should go there; it’s what we’ll do once we get there. While technology can be scary, a better world doesn't.
Singer said that every so often, new technology changes the rules. These technologies include fire, the printing press, and gunpowder. These technologies are extremely rare but very important.
It's not about getting from A to B, but how we get there and what we find once we arrive. Technology and philosophy can be combined to create a better world.
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