Twee redenen waarom zelfrijdende auto’s geen stuur krijgen

Self-driving cars are on the horizon, but don’t expect them to include a steering wheel for you to grab. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Last week I shared some photos from inside Google’s prototype of a self-driving car. The reactions were about as polarized as I’ve ever seen on a blog post I’ve written. The first group of readers were amazed, and they wanted to know where they could buy one. Everyone else was terrified of the interior. A car that they could never steer? No thanks.

The problem with including a steering wheel in a self-driving car is that human drivers can’t be trusted to effectively take over in sticky situations. So the makers of driverless cars can’t responsibly include a steering wheel.

Reid Hoffman, the renowned Silicon Valley investor and LinkedIn co-founder, relayed some telling research from Stefan Heck, the founder of Nauto, a self-driving car start-up:

Research that Stanford has done shows that drivers resuming control from Level 3 vehicles functioning in autonomous mode take 10 seconds just to attain the level of ability that a drunk driver possesses. And to get back to full driving competence takes 60 seconds.

That’s a full 10 seconds just to function at the level of someone who shouldn’t be behind the wheel. A self-driving car cruising at 70 mph is unlikely to have 60 or even 10 seconds to wait for a human to take over.

“A huge fraction of the time, nothing bad will happen because the vehicles really are reliable, hundreds of kilometers at a time before something really terrible happens,” said Ed Olson, a University of Michigan professor researching self-driving car technology. “You can’t just be tootling along on the freeway and the car says — ‘Oh your turn!’ Meanwhile the person is like ‘What?’ ”

Hoffman’s entire post on LinkedIn is worth your time. It’s full of interesting insights, such as how cars will turn into places for marketing and advertising. A coffee shop, for example, might even pay your self-driving car company to take you a block or two out of your way so that you drive by it. Accepting flexible, out-of-your way routes might mean a cheaper fare, and you might get offered a coupon to that coffee shop.

Related:Inside the fake town in Michigan where self-driving cars are being tested

Over de Auteur

Mark Boekraad

Mark Boekraad

Mijn naam is Mark en als autofanaat ben ik zeer geinteresseerd in de revolutie van de zelfrijdende auto. De zelfrijdende auto zal langzaam ingeburgerd gaan worden, maar dat zal zeker nog jaren duren. Ik lees nu al veel over dit onderwerp op binnen- en buitenlandse media. En zal dat de komende jaren blijven doen. Als je nog tips hebt of links naar interessante sites, dan hoor ik dat graag! Want samen kunnen we iedereen laten genieten van de opkomst van de zelfrijdende auto.


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