Do you remember all those science fiction stories when you were a kid?
We all fantasized about many scientific things, especially robots, doing all our work or a car driving itself and taking us wherever we want and much more hanging in our imagination.
All those are no more fantasies but they are on their final way to reach the destination of reality. And driverless cars are one of them.
In this era, where everything is turning automatic, the top companies like Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and Volvo are developing and testing the self-driving cars.
So, what is a driverless car?
A driverless car or an automated car is a robotic vehicle which is designed to travel along the way without human interference.
Google’s autonomous vehicles are presently being tested on private roads and since 2010. The cars being tested always has two people inside- one, a highly qualified driver and two, a Google engineer, who sits and observes how the software is working.
But how safe are they?
A small mistake can make a huge disaster. Controlling the conditions around the vehicle is proving more problematic than the technology itself.
Issues such as lack of road markings, road works or adverse weather are a challenge.
Maybe driverless cars can avoid accidents caused due to distractions, but can they be programmed to react to ambiguous situations?
With pedestrians, cyclists, other cars and large vehicles all jostling for road space, how can a programmed car choose a least bad case outcome in an event of a collision?
Uber is also one of many companies now testing this kind of vehicles in Arizona, California and other parts of the country.
A while back, Uber moved to work with a single operator, even after the concerns expressed by many employees.
The recent collision, where one of the self-driving cars met a fatal accident in Arizona last week has raised many questions and worries among the community. It was not a first accident that happened which is linked to driverless cars but here, a pedestrian was killed.
Apparently, during the test drive, the safety driver was not keeping up with the protocol, that is, looking straight ahead on the road and keeping his/her hands hovering above the steering wheel in case of an emergency.
Further, the former RBI governor Mr Raghuram Rajan said that the driverless cars will need to engage in the crowded streets of Darya Ganj to prove that it works and that might take a long time to happen.
Self-driving cars are not yet legal on roads but by seeing the speed of development, we can be sure that they are going to get on the roads real soon.