Should We Trust Autopilot Car Technology?

Some cars on the road today already include many semi-auto features, like assisted parking and self-braking systems. And completely autonomous vehicles—able to operate without human control—are rapidly becoming more of a reality. Google even intends to release an automatic vehicle to market by 2020, which brings tons of confidence to consumer trust in these technologies. However, what is it about this technology that enables this trust?

The NHTSA has determined that three technologies will be responsible for significantly reducing car accidents in the future, all thanks to automation: Sensors, connectivity, and software

Sensors include advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance, and forward collision warning. Sensors for other features such as radar, ultrasonics, and cameras will continue to provide the input necessary to safely navigate cars.

Connectivity means cars have access to the latest traffic, weather, surface conditions, construction, maps, adjacent cars, and road infrastructure. This data is used to monitor a car’s surrounding operating environment to anticipate braking or avoid hazardous conditions.

Lastly, software/control algorithms are needed to reliably capture the data from sensors and connectivity and make decisions on steering, braking, speed, and route guidance.  The most complex part of self-driving cars, the decision-making of the algorithms, must be able to handle a multitude of simple and complex driving situations flawlessly. 

This software must meet an exceptionally high safety standard to implement algorithms which must be robust and fault-tolerant.

As 94% of auto accidents are caused by human errors, this technology, if avail, is being realized as long overdue due to increased consumer demand.