Did youknow that transportation services such as Uber, Lyft etc. have announced thatthey will use self-driving cars? In thefield of Software Engineering there is a debate on the issue of the publicutilizing driverless cars to get themselves to go places around the country andissues regarding their safety arises when we hear the term “self-driving.” Inrecent news, we heard rumors that self-driving cars are coming to the public soon. There are many questions that arise when thewords self-driving comes up. One such question that comes up is: how will thecar maneuver and identify objects on the road without an actual person doingthe motions of detecting and responding accordingly to a certain situation athand? The audience this essay is geared towards is people who utilize publictransport on a day to day basis.
What are some technological factors that aretaken into consideration when determining whether self-driving Uber cars aresafe for the general to utilize? Also, if it is not safe, why and what can wedo to ensure safety to passengers utilizing driverless cars? This paper will examine how the technologicalfactors, such as LIDAR, sensors, and other equipment, that are embedded in thecar useful for senior citizens and the disabled. There has been documentationon this issue in the recent past. Scholars such as Melanie Swan, a technologyfuturist and scholar of philosophy of emerging technologies, mathematics andscience, identifies three main reasons for this change in the coming decadesfor the change in the automobile industry (“Melanie Swan”).
Wayne Rash, a freelance writer on coveringthe issues of technology, sees potential for the self-driving but the localstate officials did not want these cars to roam their cities because they feltit was not ready for deployment stage (Rash). Simson Garfinkel, is the Chief of the Centerfor Disclosure Avoidance Research at a US Census Bureau (“SimsonGarfinkel”). He is interested in researching on privacy in bigdata, cybersecurity, and usability (“Simson Garfinkel”). Thesescholars explain some of the technological factors that are being utilizedright now in the testing stages that will help reduce the traffic that is onthe roads right now, but who it is being geared towards is missing. Along with the many advancements in technologythat are being made, making these cars available to senior citizens anddisabled people will be more beneficial for their needs and also addingadditional assistance in this technology growing era will better serve itspeople. Thearticle “Uber’s Self-Driving Car Service Has Come a Long Way Remarkably Fast”is written by Wayne Rash. He brieflymentions some of the test drives that were held at some of the major cities inthe United States.
For example, some of the tests were held in major cities insome states such as San Francisco, Pittsburgh, California, Fort Collins,Colorado Springs etc. (Rash). The design of the self-driving cars was simple.It had an “internally-mounted supercomputer along with custom integratedcooling systems for the computer and integrated storage. The cars have GPSpositioning systems and a series of sensors to help the car’s computer knowspecifically where the car is located at any given time” (“Uber’s Self DrivingCar Service” 1).
These sensors also include “LIDAR (light direction andranging) in which a laser sensor in a spinning device maps out a 360-degreepicture of the car’s surroundings as it moves” (“Uber’s Self Driving CarService” 1). These cars essentially have a supercomputer, LIDAR, cameras, andother sensors such as cameras to help it detect various object and situationsthat occur on the road. The features included are personifying the characteristicsof a human being. The sensors act as thehumans’ eyes, the supercomputer acts as the human brain. Through thesedistinguishing features, the computer gains the ability to think and actaccordingly without making any mistakes while on the road and safely reach itsdestination. To prove that this idea has accomplished a task successfully, anOtto test truck was put into test. This truck was assigned to deliver 51,744cans of beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, without any human intervention,and it was successful (“Uber’s Self Driving Car Service” 3).
Even though thistest was successful the state officials of Colorado were still not convinced. Swanidentified three main reasons for the change in the transportation orautomobile industry in the future, in her article “Connected Car: QuantifiedSelf becomes Quantified Car.” The first reason is the rising trend in thedemographic, more people are moving into the cities from rural areas. Thesecond reason is the rising trend in self-driving vehicles. Lastly, overallecosystem for transportation service delivery for the automobile industry ischanging (“Connected Car”, 3-4). Due to population growth, one of the predictedchanges in the years to come is the increase of congestion in traffic. Thischange in the demographics is very important, because as the population isincreasing as well as the age of the population more medical help is needed (“ConnectedCar”, 3). Since there is a tremendous increase in the amount of traffic, manyof the people who were interested in driving in the early 90’s when Henry Ford firstintroduced the concept of an automobile to the general public, will soon loseinterest because it is taking them forever to go from one place to another.
Thereare multiple cities in present day that are facing such issues like this: Houston,Mexico City, Bangkok, Istanbul etc. there are many more cities that areencountering this problem on a day to day basis. This section implemented threestages before these self-driving cars will fully come to the road.
“The progressionis from advanced driver assistance systems to semi-autonomous systems to fullyautonomous driving” (“Connected Car”, 3). This glimpse of the stages that isgoing to take place is very vital because this idea is only in its novicestages only, these expensive projects cannot be implemented overnight. Thereare other problems that needs to be taken into consideration such as insurance,software vendors, customers, manufactures will make their rising profits in theyears to come because of these changes (“Connect Car”, 3).
In major countrieslike Abu Dhabi, a small city called Masdar City has already started makingchanges to its transportation mechanisms. The idea of a “personal podtransportation network where any local destination would only be a few minutesaway” has been rising in the Arab countries. This is a personal pod transportation system where once a person entersthe pod it will dispatch and combine with other pods in transport in a vacuumat a very high speed, and break off towards the end and detach the same way ithas attached but at a different location (Masdar City PRT). This idea of publicrapid transport will decrease the amount of traffic on the roads in the city ofMasdar, to decrease the amount of time it will take to get to a particularlocation without the worry of traffic. Just asthere are many benefits with autonomous cars they come with baggage of risks aswell. Garfinkel in his article “How Angry Truckers Might Sabotage Self-DrivingCars” determined several problems with the self-driving cars. As more and moreautonomous cars become more prevalent, the truck drivers and taxi drivers fearthe risk of losing their livelihood and they may try to sabotage the system bytrying to jam the sensors of self-driving cars or they may try to wear somekind of glasses/objects that may confuse the sensors and derail the actionswhich may lead to accidents or halt the system (“How Angry Truckers”). Computer hackers may take control of the on board computers and makethem do things that may disrupt the system (“How Angry Truckers”).
Terrorists and other antisocial elements may use cars as car bombs bycontrolling the car remotely and carry out destruction to property and killmany people (“How Angry Truckers”). The examples above are just some of the possible problems that mightarise with the rise of autonomous cars. These situations might arise in thefuture and this shows how angry normal people are and they are not able to makea living. Transportationhas become a growing problem that will eventually affect the people in thefuture. There has been a lot of development that will improve advancing thisidea in the future. Technologies such a LIDAR, cameras, and sensors are just afew solutions that were taken into consideration when doing some long distancetest drives from one city to another, which turned out to be successful. Theidentification for the change in the mode of transportation is significant becauseif we do so we can come up with proper techniques to accomplish the goals wehave in mind for a better future. There were potential risk factors that alsohave been found.
Since the autonomous cars are solely run by sensors and acomputer there are chances that in the future just, as our every laptopcomputers sometimes get viruses and such, the same vulnerability is there whenthese novice cars are initially put on the road. In order to resolve theproblem that arises mentioned here, we can specifically target those who needthese kind of cars. These findings are just the beginning of the new era oftransportation in the field of Software Engineering.
These advancements intechnology proves that computers are not only useful in big IT companies, butalso are useful for safe public driving practices. There needs to be furtherresearch done as to how these advances can further benefit senior citizens andthe disabled.