Self driving cars are all the buzz these days. It’s something that we’ve been fantasizing about in movies for decades. And why not? Number one cause of accidents is the driver. So of course, our mega tech companies are throwing buckets of money at this problem so we can all better survive travel by car, right? Well, maybe not.
We’ve seen work ongoing at Google with autonomous vehicles. Currently they are good enough to go down the road without running over pedestrians, bicycles, or ramming other cars, but not good enough to keep the human co-pilot from hovering their hand over the abort button. It’s difficult to say exactly where Google sees the technology paying off for them. There are rumors of selling the technology to existing car manufacturers, or perhaps a taxi service.
Recently Tesla Motors has incorporated several autonomous features into the Model S/D. The car has a fair amount of sensors that it can assist in braking, lane changes, and obeying speed limits. It can even completely put it self away and pick you up at your front door in the morning, but only on your property. You see, the laws for autonomous cars are non-existent, so you only get the uber cool stuff in your driveway.
Conveniently, all this automation leaves a lot more time for the driver to do other things, like the stuff they are doing now but shouldn’t be.
Two new AAA-University of Utah studies show that despite public belief to the contrary, hands-free, voice-controlled automobile infotainment systems can distract drivers, although it is possible to design them to be safer.
Pretty much every car maker today is rushing to make sure their infotainment systems can allow the driver to tweet, post, and message their way around town, but in reality they are creating probably the most dangerous cars on the road. So self driving cars might just end up keep the millennials alive on the road.
And maybe this is really what Google is doing in that space. Whether it is their intent or not, a self driving car will become the 30 minute chamber of internet and social interaction, oh and they can serve you quite a few ads in that time too. Freeway billboard companies be warned, Google’s is going to steal all your eyeballs.
So this is why Facebook needs to get in the self driving car game. They too need to make sure their users are plugged in to the grid. Both companies could create a subsidized model for car ‘ownership’ where the car picks the best route to get you there, which may happen to drive by a sponsored shop or two. Hungry? That’s great because since you just did a search for “great burgers”, there is In-n-Out car outside waiting for you.
At some point we can tell stories about how we used to be able to just control the car to go where ever we wanted, as risky as that sounds.