DETROIT (AP) — Cars that drive themselves — even parking at their destination — could be ready for sale within a decade, General Motors Corp. executives say.
GM, parts suppliers, university engineers and other automakers all are working on vehicles that could revolutionize short- and long-distance travel. And Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will devote part of his speech to the driverless vehicles.
Yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show had more than a speech:
The driverless Tahoe drew a number of national camera crews to the chilly lot outside the CES on Tuesday. They filmed as the SUV navigated a course of traffic cones -- and a four-way stop with a Hummer -- with nobody behind the wheel.
This brings a boat-load of questions to mind. Do I want to wrest control of my vehicle over to a computer? Can I trust other non computer controlled vehicles (i.e. human controlled) not to hit mine? Who would be responsible for injuries and damages resulting from a computer controlled car crashing? Would this create a renaissance for Happy Hour at the local bar, since you can drive to the bar after work, get sauced, and have the car drive you back home? ... or would this make New Years driving much safer?
And here's the kicker: If you do (stupidly) get behind the wheel when intoxicated and put the auto-pilot on, are you a passenger or driver? Can you be pulled over for drunk driving? If you are asleep at the wheel and the auto pilot is on, are you a danger to other motorists? How much manual override would you as a human have?
Car: I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave.
Driver (puzzled): Who is Dave?
How will the Teamsters like this new technology, because after all, would companies need humans to drive big rigs anymore? Fair thee well, sweet Bandit and Snowman.
Oh! And what about this? If someone steals your car, would it drive them straight to jail? Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Could you program destinations into the computer to prevent your adventurous teenager from NOT going to the library to study? How much control would the government physically have over your car. If Uncle Sam thinks you're a terrorist, would it drive straight to Miami and load you on a ship bound for Guantanamo? Though seriously, if you were considered a threat to society, does the government have the right to lock you in your car until authorities arrive? Obviously GPS will be used for keeping the vehicle on course, so would anyone store this information on where you've been and where you are going, and what can the government, businesses and other people legally do with this information?
Geez, and my list of questions goes on. All I've got right now are questions. What do all of you think? Post your thoughts on driverless cars and trucks, and their legal, social and economic ramifications.
(photo courtesy autonews24h.com)
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