21 August 2023
Summer weather just seems to bring out the nut cases. Over the weekend, I saw it again, two drivers drag racing in the Mt. Baker tunnel and a lane-splitting motorcycle on the Interstate 90 bridge that was easily doing 100 mph.
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I’ve been a skeptic of self-driving cars because I can just imagine the Internet going down just as you’re approaching a Diverging Diamond intersection, faded lane markings baffling the guidance system, or Russian hackers taking control of 10,000 self-driving trucks and blockading the Pentagon.
But as I watch the summer driving habits around here, I’m beginning to think we’ll have no choice.
For example: In San Francisco, a self-driving car collided with a fire truck recently, injuring the passenger. That’s bad.
So the California Department of Motor Vehicles will ask Cruise, the company that operates the self-driving cars, to take half of them off the road.
Talk about accountability.
That’s basically the government recalling cars for failing to prevent an accident! That gives the company a pretty strong incentive to get it right.
We don’t do that with human-driven cars, and yet why shouldn’t we expect every carmaker to program cars to prevent accidents? Even if they’re not completely self-driving?
We humans have had our chance to learn how to drive, and the statistics show we’ve failed. So imagine that to be street legal, a vehicle had to be incapable of drag racing, tailgating, weaving, double-line crossing, and pedestrian-hitting. The technology is there. It shouldn’t be optional, any more than seat belts are optional.
Yes, I realize this is how the robots take over, so I would allow a one-year grace period. One year to cut the accident rate in half, and if we can’t do that on our own then domo arigato mister roboto.
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