8 Reasons why Self-Driving Cars are not a Thing in Near Future
Whether we like it or not, self-driving cars in the future are almost guaranteed at this point. Simply put, no human can react as quickly and effectively as a computer can. That’s just a fact. But given that the systems have been around for the best part of a decade by now, why aren’t they standard equipment in most mainstream road cars? Well, as it turns out, there are quite a few issues to work out still.
1. The risk of an autopilot system malfunctioning is still relatively high. Whether it completely shuts down or gets confused and doesn’t know what to do, the fact of the matter is that as of today they’re just not that reliable.
2. There’s an ethical issue almost no one is discussing as well. If a car crash is inevitable, the autonomous system has to make a quick split-second decision whether to protect its occupants inside or any outside pedestrians. When you think that someone has to program the system to operate in a given way, you do have to wonder if we really should be given the power to predetermine someone’s destiny in a way. You have pros and cons either way, and we’re not sure we’ll ever see a solution to that issue.
3. The systems will almost surely depend on constant and reliable data information for the road conditions ahead to be able to work properly. Any issues with data transfer such as loss of information will severely affect the autonomous system’s reliability. Although programmers say complex algorithms will solve this issue, a backup plan where the driver can takeover has to be implemented, so we’re probably never going to see a fully self-driving vehicle.
4. Today’s modern autonomous vehicles rely on a safety net of radars and cameras using road markers to navigate. So what would happen in the event that it’s raining heavily or a road is covered in snow completely? Is it possible to improve autonomous cars to the point where they no longer rely on road markers, and if so, how much would that infrastructure of sensors built in the roads cost? Would it even be sustainable?
5. Autonomous machines and humans don’t mix very well, we’re all aware of that. So if we’re going to have fully-autonomous cars, we either have to make them mandatory or not implement them at all. Whereas autonomous vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and drive accordingly, the unpredictability of a human driver and his behavior is a hazard in a future fully-autonomous world.
6. There’s still a lot of stuff developers need to implement in an all-encompassing autonomous system. Yes, they can function pretty reliably if they have all the necessary road markers and everything in traffic moves according to the laws, but as we’re sure you’re aware, that’s almost never the case. What happens if a self-driving car encounters black ice? How will it cope with it? Or, even worse, what if it encounters things it wasn’t meant to deal with, such as dogs and cats running across the road, or a driver breaking the laws and merging illegally? Teaching a computer how to drive a car and react to any situation is a billion times harder than teaching it how to play chess. There’s no usual patter it can follow, it has to, in essence, have free will to be able to instinctively react to a given hazard.
7. Then there’s the matter of security. Having a car that can do everything is great, but at the end of the day, it can be just as easily hacked as your tablet or computer. Imagine the potential threats if anyone with advanced hacking knowledge can remotely control your steering, accelerator and even brakes. The recipe for disaster is there, and it’s enormous. Engineers are going to have to come up with bullet-proof system which is neigh-on impossible to hack.
8. Last but not least, there’s the issue of synchronization and uniformity. If autonomous cars are to talk to one another, they’re going to have to use the same or similar software to carry on an effective data transfer link. With hundreds of auto manufacturers and thousands of models, implementing such a standardized system across a global platform for all vehicles is looking like an impossible task at the moment. But who knows, right? We went to the moon once, and people thought that was impossible at some point.