Self-Driving Cars…Inevitable, Scary, or Both?


Courtesy of Tribune News Service

One of Google’s self-driving cars rolling around California.

Lex Minnick, Business Manager

Car accidents happen daily, costing money, time, and most importantly lives. Around 33,000 people die a year, due to errors relating back to the driver. It is believed that two thirds of these lives could be saved by self-driving cars.

Google started this push for safer cars and now Apple and Uber are observing these ideas. This began 6 years ago and is continuously becoming a bigger idea.

Ralf Herrtwich, a computer scientist, took Bill Whitaker on a ride in the new self-driving car. Ralf Herrtwich is testing out new, self driving cars, and doing research for Mercedes-Benz. Bill was highly amazed that the car drove itself, feet nor hands were in charge.

Bill was initially concerned with the fact that the car literally drove itself. Stopped for red lights, went on green lights. But then the concern increased when the car was entering the freeway. Mr. Herrtwich offered to put his hands on the wheel for extra safety, but Bill trusted him.

The car only goes the speed limit, some may think it’s too slow, but it’s safe in other minds.

Ralf Herrtwich stated, “Some people have remarked that the car itself, in some cases, drives a bit like an old lady. That’s…that’s fine with us, for the time being.”

The car has camera and sensors all around the car, attempting to detect any danger that would come about. The car can scan at a maximum of 600 feet in all directions.

Although the car has most control, if the car starts beeping, it means danger is near. This means that the driver of the car should resume control by taking the steering wheel. The car can only sense things in the environment, as humans can only sense things they see.

Google is thought to be a technology company, not a car manufacturer. Yet cars are now full of technology and software where the main “brain” of the car is algorithms which can be improved by Google. This is the part of the car that detects different scenarios and situations that could possibly occur so the car is prepared for any danger.

Nate Gutierrez, a local student says, “I think it’s an amazing start and that Google is a part of it.”

There are already cars out for sale that can practically park your car for you, keep you in your street lane, and take over in constant traffic stops.