Here in Southern California, the car capitol of the world, get ready to lose control of your car. Driverless cars are being tested on the streets and freeways, mostly in Northern California, but the companies testing them say they’ll be a reality in the near future.
The companies say that safety is their number one priority and Consumer Watchdog, a private consumer advocacy group, agrees. In fact, Consumer Watchdog says there are a lot of tough questions that have to be answered before you get behind the wheel, so to speak since the cars being tested don’t have steering wheel. Consumer Watchdog’s Jamie Court says the toughest question is “in a split second, when someone’s life is on the line, a human life, are we going to trust an engineering algorithm to make the right choice or are we going to trust human judgement?”
When it comes to putting these computers-on-wheels on the road, Google’s leading the race. It’s driven a million miles on public streets and currently has more than 70 of the cars being tested by more than 200 drivers. The company’s newly-hired CEO of the self-driving car project, John Krafciks, says safety is his goal.
“This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of things we find frustrating about driving today,” says Krafciks. So far, since reporting on test accidents began, Google says it’s had only nine accidents. In each case, the company says it was the fault of the other driver, not the self-driving test cars.