Thoughts on Autonomous Cars

by Colin Berkshire

I’m as excited as anybody about self-driving cars. I’ll be one of the first to purchase one.

I’m not so concerned about safety. The stats are pretty clear that they are safer than human driven cars.

I am concerned about the niggly details…

After your car drops you off, how will it find a parking space?

Can it find a parking space in a downtown garage? And, how will it pick up the ticket? And, how will it pay when it exits?

When four autonomous cars arrive at a 4-way stop intersection, how do they decide which car may go first?

Will there be a way for pranksters to maneuver their cars in a way that ‘scares” the self driving car into driving into a ditch or trying to avert an accident? And, will there be documentation of what happened?

Will the insurance scammers be able to set up accidents? (Like the one where two cars in front of you are in cahoots and then the front car slams on its breaks and the second car behind changes lanes, setting you up to rear-end the first car?

Will a self-driving car drive right into tornados?

How will they handle a power failure causing the traffic signals to be out?

How will they handle construction, where you must drive into the opposing lanes, or with a flagger directing traffic?

Will they be able to run out of gas?

How will they handle the free-for-all snarl of cars at airport arrival and departure areas?

When you go through a drive-through, how will it know you have paid or picked up your order?

As you can see, I am convinced the cars can drive. My questions are about what happens at the start and end of each trip.