The confusion between fully autonomous self-driving cars and those that simply offer driver assistance technologies, is causing deaths on the road. Who is to blame and what should be done about it?
Self-driving cars already exist, and there will be more of them in the future, but the odds are that you will not be prompted for one at any time soon.
You can, however, either the use of a car that you can drive, brake or the park itself.
The fear is that the hype around driverless cars has led some drivers to test the limits of existing technology in ways that are downright reckless.
A Tesla driver in the uk, for example, was recently prosecuted for climbing in the passenger seat of his car while it was moving at around 40mph (64km/h) on the freeway.
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He was using Tesla’s autopilot, a system that enables the car to accelerate, brake and steer by itself in the main roads, but is not designed to completely replace a controller.
Other manufacturers such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac have similar mechanisms.
But none of them is designed to be fully autonomous. Hands on the wheel
Using the criteria of the standard set by the united states engineering organization SAE International, the cars can be placed in six categories according to the level of automation that contain.
Ranging from the Zero Level, where the vehicle is not automated at all, to Level 5, which means that it can conduct himself in all ways and in all conditions, making the human behind the wheel, and the steering wheel itself redundant.
Current “driver assistance” systems Level 2 in the jargon, and the driver is meant to keep their hands firmly on the steering wheel.
But getting the message across has clearly been a challenge.
Tesla, auto-Pilot, in particular, has been implicated in a series of high profile crashes, two of them fatal. Tesla ‘deleted’ car crash probe
The company denies the allegations that the auto-Pilot own name encourages drivers to deliver the control, and has rejected the demands of the German government to stop using the term.
It is said that the feedback from customers has shown that “they have a very clear understanding of what the auto Pilot is, how to properly use it and what features it consists of”.
However, from 2016 Tesla, the systems have warned drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, and you can turn off the system completely if they fail to do so.
That same year, Mercedes faced criticism over the advertising that suggests your E-Class was a “self-driving car”.
It later withdrew the ads, in reply, said, the complaints that customers may find confusing.The elimination of human beings
Although the ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber have been working hard in the development of the full autonomy of the technology – as many have done so to the manufacturers of equipment – Level 5 cars are still quite far away.
Lyft seems to be closer than most.
At the end of this year, Google’s sister company is planning to introduce a taxi service without a driver in Phoenix, Arizona. Unlike several other autonomous taxi services that is currently being tested around the world, this does not need a safety controller in the car.
But the service only works in a relatively small “geo-fenced” area of Phoenix, which the company has intensively mapped. It is, in effect, a test bench.
There is a large step between this type of limited service and something that is able to negotiate a densely populated mega-city in all weathers.Test drive
“Testing and development is different from introducing in the market”, explains Professor Walter Brenner, University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, and co-author of the Self-employed – how the driverless revolution is going to change the world.
“They are completely different worlds. The tests are useful because they show the strengths and limits of this technology, but they are only tests.”
Earlier this year, a woman was killed in Arizona by a Super test car being driven in autonomous mode. She did not stop when she moved in his way.
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Clearly, despite all the research that is being conducted and the money being spent, there are still a lot of work to do before full autonomy becomes a safe deposit box, a daily reality.Responsibility
Safety experts believe that car companies need to take more responsibility to make sure that consumers do not make mistakes.
“To call this type of technology of auto-Pilot… that is very misleading for consumers,” says Matthew Avery of Thatcham in the Research of a group of testing of vehicles on behalf of the uk insurance industry.
“You might think” I only need to press this button and I can leave the car’.”
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He also thinks that the manufacturers should take additional measures to ensure that the technology is not abused, such as having surveillance cameras in the driver.
But he remains convinced that the automation of the same is of vital security benefits.
There is already evidence that the automatic emergency braking systems and pedestrian detection are the reduction in the number of accidents. But the more sophisticated systems can take this process a step further.
“What is the best of the systems that are doing is the integration of lane control, preventing people from deviating from its lane, to braking control and distance control.
“That can really help to keep people out of trouble,” he says.’Harsh punishments’
Walter Brenner believes that there is a need for drivers and persons in the sale of cars to become more educated about what semi-automated systems can do.
There is a risk, admits that even with that knowledge that some people might deliberately choose to allow the technology do more of what they should be – to experiment with it, or even to show.
In those cases, he thinks, the punishment must be harsh.
“There is a big difference between testing a new feature in an iPhone and play with the technology in a car when you are traveling at 100 km/h (62 mph) on a public road,” he says.
“Those people have to be punished because they are risking the lives of other people.”Follow the Business Technology editor Matthew Wall at Twitter and Facebook
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