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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Stagg

Self-Driving Cars Won't Drive Themselves

Interior of vehicle on highway at dusk
Photo by dominik reallife on Unsplash

Self-driving technology is talked about often, and fretted about even more often, but the nuances of the technology and what it actually means for the average driver is not always clear. There are numerous misconceptions that people have, some of which have dangerous consequences.

In article in The Outline, Noah Kulwin contends that one of the biggest misconceptions is about how far advanced self-driving technology currently is. While self-driving cars are being tested in select cities, the reality is that the technology is far from ready for wide release (as the collisions that have occurred in these tests demonstrates). While the amount of buzz surrounding self-driving cars make it seem like the technology is only a short-time away from being widely available, experts don't see it that way.

"CEOs and tech visionaries once promised that we'd all be riding in fully driverless Ubers by 2030, but we can consider that timeline now pretty much discredited. What is instead taking place is a more gradual adjustment, with the introduction of technologies that take progressively more tasks away from the human driver."

Another popular misconception? That the autopilot feature on recent vehicle models, like Tesla, constitutes self-driving technology. This was, fatefully, the cause of a collision in San Francisco that claimed the life of a father of two. While operating the vehicle on auto-pilot mode, the driver was playing video games on his phone when his vehicle crashed. Recent studies have shown that

While the recent death in San Francisco is a tragic case, recent studies have shown that the widespread availability of adaptive cruise control in recent models has mean that, for those that avail themselves of the technology, they are twice as likely to engage in distracted driving.

There are a lot of important take aways from Noah Kulwin's piece, and the recent research conducted by organizations like AAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, such as the need for greater education and communication when it comes to how to safely use auto-pilot technology. Another takeaway? Time-honoured safe driving practices, like avoiding distraction, traveling at a space speed, and checking mirrors and blind spots, are still king when it comes to road safety, and we would be remiss, in the face of so much new technology, to forget that safe driving starts with us.

Read the original article by Noah Kulwin in The Outline here.


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