About five years ago, I wrote a very interesting article suggesting that the Google self-driving car would eventually be competing in NASCAR against human drivers. I laughed sometime later when on April 1 Google put out a joke video on YouTube stating that they were going to enter NASCAR and had sponsorship for their self-driving vehicle. I’m glad they liked my joke, and I’m sure everyone thought that was funny being as it was April Fool’s Day, even if a large number of people probably figured it out. Okay so let’s talk shall we?
You see, there was a very interesting article in the Popular Science issue of October 2013. The article was titled “Traffic Patterns – Robots Can Already Outright Humans – Now Everyone Needs to Get out of Their Way,” by Adam Fisher. In the article they took us into this probable future. Perhaps you’ve seen the Google car driving through a parking structure in Silicon Valley dodging concrete barriers, driving at 35 miles an hour, the video I watched had a person in the right seat along for the ride who was scared out of their wits, not knowing if the car could negotiate at that speed. The car was driving faster than a human could probably negotiate, and it was doing it all with sensors and high speed processing.
It makes sense that a car would be able to do this, because the United States Navy has Jets which take off from an aircraft carrier and readjust the elevator pitch 15 times per second, faster than any human pilot could do it and that prevents buffeting on takeoff. The United States Navy now has UAV drones which can land on the ship totally autonomously, as well as do aerial refueling. What I’m saying is we have the technology to build race cars which don’t make mistakes, sense the other cars around them, could prevent crashes, and make the best decisions based on a decision matrix artificially intelligent program with all sorts of parameters.
Can a human being drive that precisely for a 500 lap race? Most likely not. Further, if these computer systems can outperform racecar drivers, surely they can outperform a mom with three kids in the car distracting her all the way to the grocery store, or an old man driving home from the doctor, or someone who’s had too much to drink from a local watering hole, or eventually a taxicab driver, limo driver, bus driver, and well, you are starting to get the point.
I hope you enjoy driving your car now, because in the future you may not be allowed to. Further, once our cars start flying, as in personal flying craft, I’m pretty sure the authorities aren’t going to want you to crash into anyone else while you’re up there flying around. The robots are going to be in the driver seat, and you’ll just be along for the ride. Please consider all this and think on it.