Self-driving Cars, or Stay at Home Workers

There continues to be a fascination with self-driving cars. The hope is that they will put an end to car crashes. But what exactly is a self-driving car, and is the dream of filling the highways with them justified?

First, what is a self-driving car? Would it be fair to call a self-driving car a robot? Humans have done a pretty good job building small robotic lawn mowers. We put a tiny roving robotic vehicle on Mars and it will crawl over small rocks and inch along the Martian landscape just fine, but are robotic AI cars just over the proverbial horizon? Well, try running a robotic lawn mower on a steep incline, or at 70 mph. Try just dropping an automobile-sized version of a Mars rover on a Chicago expressway and see how well it handles semi-tractor trailer combos moving tons of cargo at speeds in excess of 70 mph. Or, let’s see how it does on a country road at an unprotected grade crossing at the sounding of a train whistle.

Robots that are used to assemble automobiles, just by way of example, consist of hardware and software. Once you program the hardware to do the factory job you desire it to do, it works great. But, suppose you want to program the software that runs that hardware to assemble a motorcycle, or a military jet. … It is going to take perhaps years of re-programming.

So, why do we write again about self-driving cars? … Well, in 2016, a self-driving experimental car drove into the back of a white tractor-trailer; months later, a self-driving Uber car killed a woman pushing a bicycle. The ride services company settled a claim stemming from that pedestrian death, ending a potential legal battle over the first fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. But, though “the law” was “pliable” enough to cover one self-driving vehicle wrongful death case, are engineers really going to be putting autonomous vehicles on our highways any time soon? … Seems like some tech experts are conceding that no, we aren’t going to be seeing robot vehicles anytime soon.

In fact, on Sept. 13, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article about how the hype about driverless cars does not mesh well with reality. In the article, Christopher Mims points out that “the human ability to build mental models isn’t something that current AI can just learn, no matter how much data it’s fed”. This is what we pointed out in our blog post “Who Will Be at Fault for a Self-Driving Vehicle Crash”.

We wrote about the folly of driverless cars months ago. Were we ahead of our time? Not sure, but it does not take AI to solve traffic congestion and improve vehicle safety. It takes human ingenuity and the ability to think outside of the box.

For example, step back in time to 1970 when famed architect Paulo Soleri initiated the urban lab known as Arcosanti, that drew upon ideas published in his landmark book “City in the Image of Man”. One idea, is that urban congestion can be eased greatly by simply varying the work shifts of people so that there would no longer be morning and evening “rush hours”.

But, with modern technologies such as video conferencing and work at home arrangements (both of which we take advantage), why do people need to have self-driving cars to be safe? Couldn’t safety, and road congestion, be enhanced greatly if a large number of professionals could seamlessly work at home and abandon commuting altogether?

Seems like 5G internet could be much more easily leveraged to permit HD 3D tele-commuting to be a far more accessible technology, and result in making highway travel a thing of the past. Will this ever happen? Maybe not. Why? Because the driving force behind self-driving cars is to sell ads and entertainment to show to people lounging in their cars as they move down the highways. Here is a challenge: come up with a way to monetize tele-commuting and be the next billionaire.

In the meantime, until we all can put down the keys to our cars, trucks, motorcycles and SUV’s and say good-bye to highway accidents for good, if you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a motor vehicle crash and it happened in Indiana, pick up the phone and call us at +1 (219) 736-9700 today.

Incidentally, our new book “Fighting For Truth: A Trial Lawyer’s Insight Into What It Takes To Win” was recently ranked #1 for its category on Amazon in print and kindle.


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