Randomness (r_ness) wrote,

Bring on the self-driving cars!

Hype is pretty much what the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is all about, so when both Volkswagen-Audi and Toyota-Lexus announced they were bringing examples of their autonomous vehicle research to the show you can be pretty sure it's mostly for publicity.

That having been said I can't wait for the technology to roll out. There are millions of baby boomers whose geriatric hands will have to be pried off steering wheels, and that process will be much easier if the alternative isn't paratransit but self-driving cars. By the time I have to stop driving I have high hopes they'll have something like that ready for me, too.

What I haven't heard much publicity about is its effect on traffic deaths in the Third World. Driving conditions there are probably the most challenging to an autonomous car, but it's there that the safety payoff will be greatest, because the conditions are so dangerous. Bad roads, nonexistent signage, minimal enforcement, and poorly trained drivers all make road accidents much more of a hazard than in the rich countries.

The single greatest life-threatening danger for a traveler in poor countries is traffic accidents. Even tropical diseases aren't as much of a problem. Crime, war, and civil disorder all are slight concerns compared to the death-defying acts of attempting to walk across a busy road, or riding a minibus.

So when they manage to get autonomous vehicles good enough to deal with traffic there, it could save many of the over a million and a quarter people who die on Earth's roads every year.
Tags: travel
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.