Innovative technology solutions are constantly surfacing and shifting, and mechanical perfection seems to be in reach. In this age, we have witnessed exciting technological advances that were previously deemed impossible, and among those advances is the much-anticipated, fully automated, self-driving car.
A fully automated car doesn’t put on makeup while driving, fall asleep or text behind the wheel, and it certainly doesn’t drink and drive. These computers, void of human failings, have the ability to pilot the road with automated sensors and processors that have been programmed without flawed emotion. But even with perfectly timed and meticulously programmed algorithms, self-driving cars still lack the aptitude to react to the unexpected, and the human brain still performs in a way that a computer cannot in the face of an unpredicted hazard.
Here are five situations that continue to stunt the complete implementation and integration of self-driving cars.
While computer algorithms can ensure that a vehicle will come to a complete stop while a light is red, and resume motion when a light is green, it cannot comprehend or anticipate human behavior, and it certainly cannot control a driver that is external from the car. This could cause many accidents and traffic jams if a human driver runs a red light, or if a pedestrian jaywalks.
Where Did the Lines Go?
Just as humans are unpredictable – weather is likewise inconsistent. Driver-less cars navigate lanes through the application of cameras that surround the vehicle, and they do so by identifying the lines in order to discern one lane from the next. Falling snow, rain, or hail can impair a camera from properly identifying surrounding conditions, and deciphering between lanes.
The self-driving car, routes through the reliance on heavily detailed, three-dimensional maps that communicate the location of intersections, stop signs, buildings, etc. Hyper-intelligent vehicles combine the data pulled from these 3-D maps with readings from their external sensors to navigate the vehicle’s surroundings. The problem? Very few maps to date have been mapped to this degree, and road conditions change constantly, making it difficult for self-driving cars to successfully navigate the majority of undocumented roads. We all know the feeling of frustration when we have to take a detour due to road construction. Imagine being in an autonomous vehicle that can’t sense the construction zone and drives through anyway. Talk about a nightmare!
It Might be a Puddle…
It might be a puddle, or it might be a pothole. Self-driving cars use radar, cameras and high-definition cameras to scan roads for deterrents or road imperfections. Technology is able to identify pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, however, potholes are not easily discerned from other dark patches present in the road, such as puddles. Laser sensors present on self-driving vehicles actively monitor above the road surface, and have difficulty scanning the surface of the road from great distances.
Making Tough Decisions
Technology is void of emotion; however, this becomes an issue when self-driving technology is forced to choose between hitting a child running out into the road to retrieve a ball, or veering into a telephone pole nearby. When a crash is inevitable, how does an engineer probe a machine to make the right ethical decision in a matter of seconds? In a car controlled by algorithms, the ethical choice is now predetermined by programmers and engineers developing the code.