Google is now publishing monthly status reports on its autonomous cars, and will alert the public when its vehicles get in accidents.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.technobuffalo.com
This is a good move. While the debate goes on between autonomous cars vs cooperative cars, safety remains one of the biggest concerns, especially where Google proposes the concept of cars that have no controls. Imagine being in the front seat (no longer the driver’s seat) facing an impending hazardous situation such as described in The Future Diaries http://thefuturediaries.com/2013/04/19/boy-racers-make-sport-with-driverless-cars/ and you don’t have a steering wheel or brakes!
Whilst these cars may have a very good safety record and the latest (12th) Google car crash was rear ended at “1MPH”, the implication was that the Google car was stationery at the time.
A lot of the research is based on the behavior of the intelligent car and not on the potentially poor driving skills or impaired condition of the driver of the other car/s.
Of course there are mitigations, for example we have long talked about ‘platooning’, even before the word was used with that meaning. We had concepts of small driverless public transport vehicles that started off picking up people on arterial routes and then would ‘link-up’ on a bus-way or special lane, forming a train on wheels, to take up less room, allow slip-streaming and other benefits.
I have blogged about the topic of V2V on many occasions and the conflict between wanting to have the best proprietary features for a competitive car brand (where Volvo only talk to certain other models of Volvo) vs agreed standards.
The autonomous car could in theory go on any road, whereas platooned cars might need to have a special lane or share a priority lane with public transport (which would only work if they were similarly automated). The alternative could work well on motorways, but with unpredictable humans in the non platooned cars there are risks as you will read in an upcoming blog of The Future Diaries.
Connected cars are a great concept. Based on my many visits to Japan, their engineers would suggest though, that the priority for the non-connected cars would be to get better drivers.
Now that’s not as silly as it sounds.