Autopilot: The Self Driving Revolution

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Waymo Self driving car

By Grendelkhan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Revolution isn’t a word to throw around lightly. It means forced change from below, and often at cost. The thing is, we’re on the cusp of a huge revolution and no, you won’t be hearing the people sing – it’s less Les Miserables and more WALL-E.

The self-driving revolution is underway and there’s no stopping it. There’s serious money – be it Elon Musk, Google or investment banking and venture capitalists behind each new development. The best minds in the world are working hard at making things a little easier for everyone. Electric cars will become the norm in France, Norway and The United Kingdom by 2040, and they are natural bedfellows for self-driving cars due to their architecture. The electronics inside are more compatible with self-driving operating systems and the computers that direct cars.

Google, as usual, are leading the way with Waymo – their project to make driving safer for everyone. The theory is, that if human error can be removed from driving, then less accidents will occur on the road. Now, the road won’t be accident free, but they could be less fatal – especially if you’ve got a car that could hit the brakes before a human driver even realizes that they need to!

It’s not just cars though. We’ll be in the air by 2025. Soon enough, you’ll find that aircraft propellers are being controlled by autopilot completely. Auto-pilot is nothing new, but had more in common with ‘cruise control’ than anything else. New developments mean that a fully maneuverable aircraft is just around the corner and within a decade, passenger flights could be without a human pilot. Now, people are worried about this – just like they are worried about self-driving cars. There’s not much to worry about – but to the layman, it will seem a leap of faith that is just not worth taking. However, flying has been the safest mode of travel for a long time – and removing human error from flying can only be a good thing, right?

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There have been a number of issues with self-driving vehicles, namely accidents. It has been proven that self-driving vehicles can be hacked, so infrastructure needs to be improved. This means someone can remotely control a car or slam on the brakes. This is a huge worry. There is also an issue with trust. A recent incident with UBER proved that human drivers are not willing to yield control to robotics and an accident occurred in Arizona when a human driver refused to yield to the car, trying to override on a turn. It seems that our downright refusal to accept robotics is more likely to cause accidents than a robot itself.

The thing is, we don’t need to trust robotics, we need to trust in our own abilities to develop the tech needed to make the roads safer. It’s not robots driving cars, it’s the work of our greatest minds! It’s less a leap of faith, and more trust in our abilities to create the future, in the time of today.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.