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TheStreet Open House

Automated Driving Is NOT a Lethal Alternative

Stock quotes in this article: GM

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On Tuesday, I saw TheStreet's Anton Wahlman's article, Why Self-Driving Cars Will Be Unacceptably Lethal

As a constant student and frequent reader of the autonomous driving world, I know that Wahlman's concerns are not new to the discussion. 

Many people are hesitant at best to hand over the steering wheel to our artificial-intelligence driving partner. In fact, many in the autonomous driving world believe that public approval is a steeper hurdle than the technology necessary for autonomous driving. 

Among other things, Wahlman argued that by allowing autonomous driving to take a primary role in our driving routine, we would: 

  1. Have diminished driving skills, and
  2. Not be ready at a split second's notice to take the wheel because of distractions.

Those two arguments are undeniable. Without question. Especially the first one, although that's not entirely a bad thing. If I'm a subpar parallel parker because my car does it for me, I can live with that. 

The second argument depends on the concept that the car would actually be doing the driving for us. Not just parking or automatically braking, but actually driving.  

For instance, let's say the car were able to handle the more mundane task of driving on the freeway. It's worth pointing out in this scenario, that the biggest risk for an accident is fatigue, followed by distraction. Both of which are human errors. 

Assuming we have an autonomous vehicle that can drive us on the freeway, and perhaps elsewhere, there is no doubt that we would be doing other things, as Wahlman says. Texting, emailing, reading. You could list 1,000 things.

Look, something is bound to go wrong with automation. No matter how hard engineers try, it is simply impossible to account for every scenario a driver will experience on the road. 

Upon introduction, the automated vehicles will not be perfect, as much as we would all like them to be.

But I will be blunt: Automation in the car will not simply be stopped by the argument of We have to be ready on a split second's notice and our driving skills will diminish

Automation happened in planes. It's happened in boats. The next logical step is in the car. 

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