3/6/16

Riding with Robots: Sharing the Road With Self-Driving Cars

It's a car's world, but that is all going to change, sort of.  If tech companies with endless resources and eager to compete car makers are to be believed, we are approaching one of the biggest changes in transportation history.  The age of the self-driving car is near, and in my opinion, it can't come too soon.

Recently, one of Google's self-driving cars had a low speed run in with a bus, so apparently there are some details to work out. If Google had asked a cyclist they would have known that bus drivers yield to no one!  Nonetheless, many companies developing self-driving cars say they will be ready to go in 3-5 years.  For example, the Renault-Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghoson recently announced they will have a fully autonomous car ready by 2020 and took CNBC journalists on a test ride in a self-driving Nissan Leaf to demonstrate.

During the ride, Ghoson notes, "One of the biggest problems is people with bicycles, because they don't respect any rule usually." Uh oh. Does this mean self-driving cars are incompatible with cyclists and pedestrians?  Ghoson's comment suggests cyclists and pedestrians are doomed to an afterthought existence in the self-driving car future. I'm tempted to call him an idiot, but I won't. Instead, I will point out how his comment reveals the narrow minded car-centric thinking of people controlling our transportation system, and why self-driving cars are going to fix all that.