Ready or Not, Self-Driving Cars are Here to Stay

I feel like the past two years (2014-15) have been an ode to the blockbuster hit “Back to the Future.” Blogs, websites, and people alike are constantly bringing up what crazy inventions we should have based on Hollywood’s expectations. If we were living in the Back to the Future I & II universe, we would have things like self-tying shoes, self-walking dogs, and 19 “Jaws” movies. Even though we’re lacking Pepsi Perfect and the Lexus’ version of a hoverboard seems to be a bust, there is one thing that is actually happening that is even better than a flying vehicle: a self-driving car, brought to you by Google.

“A self-driving car? Yeah, right. That’s crazy,” may be some of the things that are flowing through your mind. It is crazy, and it’s awesome. Although it has been in the works since 2009, Google first introduced the concept to the outside world in December of 2014. The world and the Internet blew up discussing this idea, but no one really took it seriously. Well, it’s about time to because Google has released these bad boys onto the roads in Mountain View, California. Yes, real roads!

google car

Photo credit: Google Self-Driving Car Project

Although the self-driving cars are fresh out of the garage and onto the roadways, the “training wheels” are still on. The vehicles are still equipped with a steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal, and a qualified driver will be there to take over if things go awry.

The cars drive conservatively, with a speed that taps out at 25 miles per hour. However, higher speeds are being tested back at Google’s headquarters. To remain cautious, they pause 1.5 seconds after a stoplight turns green since, statistically, several accidents happen during that crucial time.

However, there have been some hiccups in the process of getting these guys onto the street. The Google cars have been in a couple accidents, luckily they were either idle or moving at less than 5 miles per hour. We must remember that they’re still prototypes after all! Yet, the biggest obstacle the Google car creators have faced are us, humans. People refuse to get behind the idea of a car that they aren’t in control of.

Maybe we hate the idea because the human race likes to be in control, or maybe it’s the innate fear that is instilled in us of putting our lives into the hands of computers. Whatever the reason may be, we are going to have to accept that this is the most ground-breaking invention since the Internet. Self-driving cars, as stated, are run by computers. Computers don’t make mistakes. But, humans do. Whether it’s because of a drunk driver or someone who is texting, nearly 1.3 million people die per year in car accidents. It’s human error, something that Google is aiming to get rid of entirely.

(Credit: Google Self-Driving Car Project)

Credit: Google Self-Driving Car Project

The future is scary, I get it. But, think about what can be done with a self-driving car: handicapped people can get from A to B much easier, the blind can sit in the driver’s seat, and parents can spend more time with their children. Whether you like it or not, these self-driving cars are much more apart of our future than self-tying shoe laces will ever be, and it’s time to get excited about it!

 

 

Author: Kacie Hughes

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