The MIT Tech Review recently published a detailed, well-balanced look at the state of driverless cars.

I’ve heard opinions on driverless cars that are extremely optimistic (‘we have all the technology ready to go – any day now!) and pessimistic (‘legal quagmires will keep them off the roads for a VERY long time’.)  I appreciate article manages to avoid falling into either trap.

A couple of take-away thoughts:

  • The article does a great job of describing yet another situation where robots are great in ‘standard’ conditions but still need to fall back on humans when things get ‘weird.’
  • An issue that I hadn’t thought about in the realm of human-robot cooperation: how long it takes someone to snap back from distraction. Sure, you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, but if you’re playing angry birds, you can’t immediately start navigating through the fiery debris of the 18-wheeler that just exploded in front of you.
  • The article made one assumption that really bothered me – that driverless cars would depend on current expensive technologies and that the only people who know cars well enough to make driverless cars are the existing car companies. It seems like a trap to assume that technology and markets won’t change in unexpected ways.