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TUESDAY, 12 JUNE 2012 16:25

Driverless Vehicles: Will we accept them on our roads?

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Deep Blue Insights President Don Waskiewicz

Google has recently been granted a license for their driverless vehicle in Nevada (http://tinyurl.com/8a7gzkv) and there appears to be considerable interest in the subject.  Governor Rick Snyder (MI), a self-admitted technology nerd is in favor of looking at the opportunity (http://tinyurl.com/7kpbl9h).   Is the public ready for sharing the road with vehicles not directly controlled by a human being? 

Suspect many will initially be apprehensive which is odd because we regularly share the road with people eating, texting, shaving and applying makeup.  In addition, we have been comfortably flying under the safe guidance of Auto Piloted aircraft for decades.  One of the primary benefits of these vehicles is the elimination of distracted driver incidents.  These vehicles follow coordinate based routes and rely on rooftop radar to avoid unexpected obstacles such as pedestrians, animals or road debris.   

Stepping away from the initial concern over unmanned drivers, let’s consider the benefits to the passengers.  Imagine travelling in the unmanned driving lane on the morning commute, brushing up on the day’s agenda, prepping for a meeting and enjoying a nice cup of coffee without the distraction or stress of driving the vehicle.  Perhaps the Carpool van will be replaced by unmanned vans that travel in groups between concentrations of residents and industrial centers replacing the need for commuter trains.  This could be a technology that is a practical, lower cost and more flexible alternative to mass transportation systems.

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