Many people remember the unveiling of Google’s driver-optional, wheel-and-pedal-less car, and still more probably remember the California DMV and its eagerness to attack the concept, and required that cars, automated or not, have manual controls for the driver/human on-board to take control if something were to go haywire and/or fail. That seems completely logical and all, just a little sad since that’s not the point of the car. But moving to today, some interesting news comes to us regarding the driver-optional car.
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Google Maps is great and knowledgeable, and it has most if not all drivable roads mapped. But as with everything, sensors aren’t yet as good as human sensory reactions. The driver-optional car was seen to have an issue of sorts with intersections, specifically ones that were empty with a red light, or were unmapped on Google’s navigation system. So, if you are alone at a red light or a newly-erected stoplight, prepare for a screeching stop of a problem. The human-free car has a problem where if the intersection has a red light for your current direction, but there are no other cars, the car has a chance of completely running the light, much like an impatient or ‘untouchable’ teenager. The issue with the mapped stoplights is far greater, since it relies not on sensor and software fixings, but on Google ability to update and maintain the database that the car needs and uses.
The problems aren’t just a red light running, or a light not registered on the database. As with most driving offences, you would receive a ticket for running a red light, occupied or not as it was. And the issue of not having a stoplight as existing causes even greater problems, because that creates exactly the opposite problem, having too much unregistered traffic and too many unknown situations, where the ‘passenger’ would be in danger and at the mercy of an underinformed system. The legal side of all the driver-optional cars business is heating up as the topic becomes more and more likely and more realized. But as time passes, and people realize that machines will be performing human tasks in the near future, on a daily basis no less, and we will have to deal with it. World, get ready, because Google is leading us with driver-optional cars into a more automated road system. We just have to straighten out that map a little first.