10 Most Important Questions About Self-Driving Cars

Last Updated : October 04 2017

10 Most Important Questions About Self-Driving Cars

by Hector Lambert 2017 October 03

10 Most Important Questions About Self-Driving Cars

Human imaginations have given birth to various inventions and innovations which have consequently propelled our development over the years. From our literature books, I still remember the story of Daedalus and Icarus in the Greek mythology who was probably the first men recorded to having attempted to fly. They made wings, like those of birds, to fly across the Island of Crete. As I clearly remember, the story never ended well with Daedalus losing his son Icarus in the process. Years and many years later, the Wright brothers would come to our rescue, credited with inventing the first airplane. It's possible to fly now!

Such innovations and inventions have been visibly present within every sphere of our lives including in Agriculture, health, Education and construction. In the road transport sector, at present the discussion is spotlighted on the self-driving car technology. The technology is also known by a number of names including autonomous, robotic, driverless, and unmanned cars. A self-driving car employs the use of technology to sense and navigate the environment without the human help or input. As of this year, most of the so called self-driving cars available on the road are not fully self-driving; still require the input of a driver.

As you would expect with any technology being or to be implemented for our use, self-driving cars continue to raise a lot of questions. Some of these questions are discussed below.

I. Does the automation go step by step or full?

We all are aware that any introduction of a feature or a function in a car needs a period of time for a driver to be acquainted with its functioning or use. Most of the accidents reported with the available self-driving cars are as a result of human error. Step by step automation, about 5 levels exists, will be crucial in avoiding accidents.


II. Do you use cameras or LiDAR sensors?

Unlike conventional cars which require your input for proper navigation, self-driving cars can employ the use of a number of techniques for navigation. Some argue that the use of LiDAR sensors which provides a 3D laser map would be most applicable while others prefer stereo cameras (by working out 3D space). While both of them can be used separately or together, the main advantages of LiDAR sensors are that they offer high resolution and therefore high accuracy.


III. Virtual or real world testing?

Forget about virtual games with their self-driving cars. This is the real world, with real injuries and destruction possible. Virtual testing will therefore not be enough to allay the fears associated with self-driving cars. It is therefore important that self-driving cars be tested and properly (many times) in the real world.


IV. Are the self-driving cars better than humans?

The only reason to replace something is when it performs better than the earlier one. Self-driving cars unlike humans are deemed to do be better in their jobs. That is, self-driving cars cannot be distracted, can react instantly and can monitor at once all road sides.


V. Are Self-driving cars legal?

Initially legislations and regulations concerning self-driving cars never existed. But because of the increased enthusiasm in production and buying of self-driving cars, legislations are being introduced country by country and state by state. For example, various states such as Nevada and California have passed necessary laws for testing of self-driving cars on the real world, public roads.


VI. Are they safe?

Of course, everyone is concerned by how safe self-driving cars are. One important point to note is that technology is sometimes susceptible to technical failures. Meaning, you cannot leave the car unattended and therefore there will be no chance for napping. I know that doesn't sound good.


VII. What happens I case you want to go old-style?

Will the new self-driving cars incorporate a steering wheel, so that in case you want to personally drive the car it would be possible?


VIII. Will we be bad drivers?

Okay, we are already bad drivers and that is why self-driving cars are emerging. The thing is, with the increased use of self-directed systems, the more we rely on them. With that we become even out of practice in driving.


IX. Would public transport become obsolete?

Just like with personal cars, public transport is also likely to follow suit and be self-driving which I guess, would make it a lot cheaper.


X. How about pollution?

The pollution of our cities and towns is increasingly becoming a problem. It is recommended that self-driving cars should be electrically powered to ease those concerns.

Hector Lambert
#1 Hector LambertAuthor 18 March, 2014, 12:37 Hector lives in Costa Mesa with his wife and four children. He is a car enthusiast and spend his free time on anything that is about vehicles.