Driverless Miss Daisy

Without Hoke there would never have been Driving Miss Daisy. Daisy might have had some trepidation about being chauffeured around by a driverless car and I am sure she would have demanded that Hoke stay in the driver’s seat.

Autonomous vehicles might be more of a novelty right now or the realm of fantasy but they are already steering their way into our lives thanks to Google, Telsa, Nvidia et al. I think in the future, human drivers will suffer the same fate as silent movie piano players – just as talkies replaced them, future progress could replace the need for a human driver. That might not be for awhile and even then cars may not be fully automated – so you could still be a controlling passenger. Fully autonomous vehicles could be restricted to dedicated lanes – painted with the words “AUTOS ONLY”.

It’s impossible to know if the roads will become safer for everyone when human drivers become a thing of the past. Most car crashes are due to human error – drunk driving, phone calls at the wheel, carelessness an so on. If human error is taken out of the equation then perhaps the roads will be safer. There could be some benefits such as a solution to Gridlock – autonomous vehicles (AVs) would be able to travel safely closer together without running into problems like cars with drivers. Traffic would flow more smoothly and there might be less traffic congestion and less emissions. However, there would be problems with unforeseen events or behavioral patterns of pedestrians and cyclists – the human psyche is the stuff of algorithmic nightmares.

AVs could become a target for hackers – from controlling the direction of a car to stopping it or crashing it. The privacy and data of a driver could also be at risk as well as issues with how this data would be regulated and stored. Blockchain technology is currently being explored for the development of driverless cars – from securing data to setting up insurance rates.

Who will win out in the end: Car or Tech giants? It’s too early to say who will win out – but driverless cars are going to be very softwarecentric, with software being at the very center of the technology – which would favor the Tech giants. The future of the internal combustion engine is uncertain, which is more the domain of the Car industry.

Driverless cars are going to exist in the future but they are not going to be an everyday reality anytime soon. There are many reasons to be optimistic about them as lots of progress has been made. Don’t rush out and buy your copy of Driverless Cars for Dummies just yet.

*Featured photo: Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

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