I hate driving. I have my G1 and I passed driver’s ed but never booked my road test. I didn’t feel confident enough in my driving skills. I had no motivation because I couldn’t afford a car, plus I’d be moving to Ottawa once I started at Algonquin College. I could bus everywhere and Uber if needed. But now, my G1 expires in less than a year and I’ll have to start all over. I wish cars could drive themselves.
This past Thursday, October 12th, Blackberry’s self-driving car had an on-street test in Ottawa. This was the first for an autonomous vehicle in Canada. While it was a suburban street that was closed off, their plan is to have the car drive on city streets in a test area with real traffic and pedestrians. Unfortunately, self-driving cars without a steering wheel are still a long way off. As of now, they’re expected to hit the global vehicle marketplace by 2021. I won’t be able to afford a car until then anyway, so that works for me.
How safe are self-driving cars?
Humans generally look at traffic laws as guidelines rather than actual laws, especially in Ontario. Ten over the speed limit is cool, right? Whereas self-driving cars refuse to do the classic rolling stop at a stop sign or go over the speed limit. What does this mean if everyone else is going ten over?
“They don’t drive like people. They drive like robots,” said Mike Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner Inc. who specializes in advanced automotive technologies. “They’re odd and that’s why they get hit.
This does not bode well for the public accepting this new technology and sharing the road with self-driving cars. Most reported crashes with self-driving cars occurred because of their low speed. Self-driving cars are designed to drive like humans but without all the human mistakes. They need to be more assertive and react to people parking illegally and j-walking.
What about snow?
Self-driving cars use cameras and sensors to ensure it stays in its lane and keeps its distance from other vehicles. Usually, this technology works very well, enter snow. Falling snow can trigger the ultrasonic sensors which causes the system to beep even though there is nothing around the vehicle. Engineers are aware of this and continue to work on it. If the weather prevents the self-driving car from seeing lines and guardrails, give it the ability to know its location within a centimetre through a mapping program. Normal GPS is only good for a metre or two.
But, it doesn’t matter how good your sensor is if it gets covered in road salt.
Do we trust them?
The DesRosiers Automotive Consultants conducted a study to find out how Canadians feel about self-driving cars. About half of Canadian consumers surveyed said that they trust self-driving cars to get them from point A to point B, but only 30% would replace their current vehicle with a self-driving car.
I mean some people name their cars, so fair enough. Plus these cars will not be cheap. Acceptance of self-driving technology was greatest with younger respondents; any chance for millennials to reduce stress and effort, they will usually go for it. Quebec respondents had the highest level of trust in self-driving vehicles, at 56.8%, followed by Ontario at 51% and the Atlantic provinces at 50.1%. The study shows that Canadians are pretty optimistic for self-driving cars to hit the road. And why shouldn’t they? Overall, these vehicles can cause fewer collisions, less time in cars, fuel savings and reduced congestion. Once the technology gets out all the bugs in five years or so, I’ll buy one.