‘On the surface, self driving cars sounds like a godsend. You could sit back and relax during your commutes, safe in the knowledge that your computer-driven vehicle will get you to your destination safe and sound. “Safe” being the keyword here, because these vehicles will supposedly be safer than any human driver. The computer will never experience road rage or fatigue, and will have lightning fast reflexes. So far, Google’s test vehicles have driven over 700,000 thousand miles without incident.
However, we don’t really know how safe or effective they’ll be until ordinary drivers begin adopting the technology on a wider basis. Many of the test drives may have been restricted to ideal conditions. In California, for instance, Google has painstakingly mapped out 2000 miles of roadway for their testing, ignoring the other 172,000 miles of public roads. They’ve essentially created the perfect lab setting to test the technology, and their self-driving cars may not be prepared for real-world conditions.
Don’t tell that to Google though. They’re busy patting themselves on the back for driving 4,000,000 miles in a virtual matrix, and they have the gall to lobby the state in favor of virtual testing over real world experience. According to Google’s safety director:
“Computer simulations are actually more valuable, as they allow manufacturers to test their software under far more conditions and stresses than could possibly be achieved on a test track.” He added:
“Google wants to ensure that [the regulation] is interpreted to allow manufacturers to satisfy this requirement through computer-generated simulations.