Monday, January 5, 2015

So...Cars are Driving Themselves. Am I Out of a Job Now?

I’ve been talking to anyone who would listen about how cars will be self-driving in the future.  The concept is fascinating and the time is nigh.  Audi is the first company (that I know of) to put one on the public roads.  Last year they tried letting it drive itself to the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, but the system failed and the driver had to take over.  This year they’re trying it again.

Soon we will enter the car, say “take me home” and it will!

Audi calls the technology "Piloted Driving," and has been showing a good deal of advancement with the technology. Now Audi says the sensors in the car are "production ready" which should both excite you and scare the bejeezus out of you.

How does it work?  The A7 comes with long-range forward radar (previously used for adaptive cruise control), two rear-facing and two side-facing radar sensors, a laser scanner (LIDAR) and a 3D camera also look forward, while four smaller cameras monitor the front and rear views from the corners of the car.  The information from all these sensors and the car's GPS location get processed by an onboard computer, which can control braking, acceleration and steering.  The system will work from 0 to 70 mph, but when the car approaches an urban area it will alert the driver to take over manual control. If the driver does not take over within a set amount of time, the car will turn on its flashers and pull over to the shoulder.  While on the highway, the A7 can initiate its own lane changes and passes.*

This is gnarly because it’ll be the wild west of legal gray areas for DUI and Personal Injury law.  If your car is driving itself, can you be held accountable for “operating” the vehicle?  What about insurance rates!? – will they decrease for a decreased window of liability due to operator error?  How will this affect dramshop liability for restaurants and bars who over-serve alcohol to people?  At what point will it be reasonable to assume that people don’t drive cars – that cars drive cars?

I don’t have answers for the questions I’m presenting.  I just like asking the questions. 

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how the Audi A7 makes its journey to Vegas.  Check it out and watch the future unfold.

*All taken and paraphrased from

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