About the author

Paul Feldman is a FairWarning staff writer.

3 comments to “Amid Rush to Deploy Driverless Cars, Federal Regulators Urged to Keep Hands on the Wheel”

  1. Cindy Winter

    Yes, good article. Thank you!

    Traffic deaths in the United States run about 35,000 per year, and the numbers of reported injuries are in the millions. If AV’s were able to cut these numbers in half, that would greatly benefit the public, even were some deaths and injuries to occur because AV’s are not (yet, or ever will be) perfect. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  2. Tom Visel

    Good article, BUT:
    Without freedom to compete and innovate, this market will be as stale and lifeless as telephones were prior to the breakup of Ma Bell. With room to fail, and room for early adopters, driverless cars can be as successful as cell phones.
    The “no good outcome” problem is not trivial but not impossible either. Given the elasticity, estimated mass, center of mass, et cetera of known hazards, programmers can develop a system that can determine the least likely option to damage the passengers or pedestrians. Best outcome goal is still determinable, even if that outcome is negative. The same thing applies to driving in speeding traffic: do we risk a ticket, or go against the vehicle’s raison d’etre? Is the hazard we (the programmers, the vehicle in this situation) create worse when we stick to the letter of the law or when we cross that double yellow or speed along with the traffic? Would the driver’s actions be defensible in court if a human driver did the same and were cited? Fortunately for the corporations building the control systems, they have documentation at hand should their agent’s choices in traffic ever be questioned.

  3. Alan Kandel

    Russ Rader said it best: “‘Anyone who uses a computer knows that computers often fail in tasks far simpler than driving a car.'”

    And, being that autonomobiles are nothing more than computer-operated motor vehicles, Anything less than flawless computer operation and safety goes out the window. Anything short of 100 percent error-free operation in this domain is, plainly and simply, unacceptable.

    I just saw a report where the speaker gave a figure for how many vehicles there are in America: “260 million,” was the response. Imagine a scenario where all 260 million vehicles are self-operating, say 40 million in operation on American roadways at any one time. What is the likelihood that all computers controlling all such vehicles will be “glitchless?” Not very. Should one computer suddenly develop software issues and considering that there will be vehicle computer-to-vehicle computer communication, I can only imagine the ripple effect created and concomitant disorder on the roads this will result in.

    That people are skeptical, wary of “autonomobility,” is completely understandable.

    Good article.

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