In a cycling forum recently, some riders complained about the future of autonomous cars, and how they’re scared to be on the road with them. I pointed out that human-dependent cars have tried to kill me on a number of occasions, intentionally driving too close, throwing things at me, and yelling loud enough to try to scare me off a road. While passengers in autonomous cars might take the time to chuck a Budweiser bottle at my head, I’m not really worried about road rage and being driven into a ditch.
Another perk with autonomous cars is the ability for self-driving systems to learn from mistakes and to propagate that knowledge to other vehicles. If a teenager drives too close to me, no other teenager on the planet is going to learn from that.
A recent video of a Tesla operating in completely autonomous mode drives this point home. At about 15-seconds into this video, the Tesla passes a cyclist. A few seconds later, around the 25-second mark, the Tesla stops way short of the Stop line. This would seem like an error on the part of the car’s self-driving system, however, if you watch the rear-facing camera view on the right of the screen, you can see that the system has detected the cyclist, tracked it, and stopped short of the stop sign in order to let the cyclist pass. I don’t think I know any drivers that do that.
Bring on the self-driving future.
Also, props to Tesla for using Yakety Sax, the track famously used on Benny Hill for this video.