Keep both hands off the wheel

Raven Gibson, Staff Reporter

Since 2009 Google has been creating and testing technology for a safer and more efficient way to drive by eliminating the control of the person. That’s right, autonomous cars have arrived.

Google’s autonomous car.  Photo by Steve Jurvetson

It seems like a far off and futuristic idea that we will never experience in our lives. Yet, in just a few years, this could be seen being sold more locally.   

Derek Muller, an Australian science communicator, recently posted a video of his experience test driving an autonomous vehicle, along with some details about how the car is supposed to essentially fix human error.

In the video, he was in the driver’s seat but he had no control over the car. He was driving the BMW autonomous model. The way this car works is that the driver can press a button on the steering wheel and give the car control, but the driver needs to be prepared to take back that control if something goes wrong.

More than 30,000 people die and approximately 2 million people are injured annually in car accidents. 94% of the time, this is caused by human error. The autonomous car will be programmed to essentially fix those problems. Even with laws in place and education, people still get distracted by a number of different things, like texting.

Once this technology advances further, people will not have to worry about paying attention to anything, allowing the driver to text, talk, sleep, read, or whatever the driver wants.

As of now, insurance will work the same way. The driver will still be responsible for an accident because they can take back control of the car.

Libby Workman (12) said, “If there is going to be a switch to self-driving cars, then I think all cars need to switch too. It doesn’t seem like it will work otherwise.”

Sydney Smith (12) added, “The convenience of having the system is comforting but also not having control of the situation is nerve-wracking.”

Waymo, Google’s spin-off company will offer autonomous cars that cost anywhere from $8,000- $12,000 depending on the number of sensors installed in the car. The sensors detect what is around the car so it can process where to go.

It is only a matter of time before the autonomous car becomes more common. The future of driving is here.