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The Driverless Car… Interesting but let’s not put the cart before the horse!


The Benefits


It won’t be possible to mention everything about this topic, we will stick to a few points that we consider important.
No need to explain what it's all about. Suffice to say that this smart baby will get us wherever we need to go in the best way: compliance with speed limits and traffic rules, route and fuel consumption optimization. It will find authorized parking places by itself. It will return on time to pick up its owner.

Besides this, what a relief for Mother Nature!


Gone are the days when we were going around in circles in search of a parking space! Gone are the days when we were stuck in a traffic jam!  Gone are the days when one always had to watch both sides of the car  in case someone overtakes  on the wrong side!
Traffic violation tickets will disappear. Free and relax, here is the new driver of a driverless car!
While the latter  is rolling and calculating, she or he  can take care of  what matters. Resting after a stressful day, admiring the landscape, watching a movie, , starting her or his workday, sending/replying emails,  participating  in a video conference, and so forth.
The smart car  that has become an extension of the office! Why not!
Not just an extension of the office !Equipped properly, the driverless car can also become an extension of your home.
So much time saved that we can now use differently! And time is money, isn't it?
In case of forced confinement, working from home or from your car will make no difference. Actually, think about it : the second has some advantages.
The vehicles will be programmed to never miss a revision. They will regularly self-diagnose between visits to the garage to prevent early breakdowns.


Safety versus Profit


Of course, unforeseen events may occur but they will be less frequent and due to our untamed  Mother Nature or external negligence : careless pedestrians, poorly secured road works, defective road signs. Nevertheless, the on-board computer will be able to detect the danger in time. Will it always make the best decision? Everything depends on the designers of its programming. Will they be able to consider  all possible and conceivable cases, including the least likely?
The intelligence of the on-board computer will be based on  artificial intelligence. Therefore,  the driverless car will be able to  learn from experience what the designer did not introduce into its initial algorithms. Meanwhile no one wants to be a victim of this learning process. It is mandatory  to ensure that as many cases as possible will be considered — not just the most frequent cases. Promoting profit at the expense of safety... no room for that here! Never!


We stay connected! Yes, but...


Computer security also poses a serious threat unless it is not connected in any way to the internet. But then such a smart car loses a lot of its interest and efficiency. So we stay connected!
A driverless car  should remain  connected to the Internet to be performant. This aspect poses a serious security issue.
Hacking  the on-board computer and divert a vehicle from its normal route to drive it and its occupants God knows where is possible.  This is when human  should be able to regain control of her or his vehicle, even if it means disconnecting it. Other types of emergencies are be taken into account. Should an on-board computer independent 911 services be created ? Why not!


A whole Environment to Prepare


However, for all this to work properly , it is necessary to make big changes.  What is meant by that? Good road conditions,  reliability of traffic lights, clarity of road signs given the detection capabilities of the intelligent vehicle's sensors, robustness  of telecommunications equipment, acceptable connectivity everywhere, to name but a few,  must be granted. Not to forget  strict adherence to the rules of the Road Safety Code by all users (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) .


Institutions and Mentalities to Change


Preparing the ground without delay! Dealing with changes at all levels! Rethinking legislation, restructuring institutions, bypassing our ego and leave control to a machine ... not easy at all!
Way less sophisticated driving lessons will have to be maintained: in case of an emergency, a real individual should take control of the vehicle.
Question: Who will be responsible if any problem occurs ? The on-board computer? The designers of the on-board software? The manufacturer of the parts?
In short, all this is not easy to put in place and it may take several years before the autonomous car can be part of our lives.


Mixed Traffic — The Mistake Not to Make


Mixed traffic is the one that accepts on the roads traditional cars driving next to autonomous cars. This won’t work  unless we aim at solving the problem of Squaring the Circle! Too many imponderables, unforeseen events which will have to be... foreseen !!
Similarly, control should only be given to humans in exceptional situations and only in these critical situations such as  hardware deficiencies of the on-board computer, hacking events.

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