Posts for the Topic self-driving cars

Robo grocery delivery?

I was intrigued to read a piece by Joe Dysart in the Communications of the ACM concerning food delivery by self-driving vehicles.  According to the article, there are a number of start-ups working on delivering food parcels to people's doors or curbs using driverless delivery vans.

Self-driving cars and technology solutionism?

In a recent Wired post, Aarian Marshall makes the point that there are several ways of accomplishing the goal of making roadways safer for the people in them.  Many jurisdictions have adopted "vision zero" plans to reduce traffic injuries.  That is, they aspire to reducing traffic fatalities to none through various safety measures.

Automotive safety standards

William Gibson, the Canadian science-fiction writer, once said:

The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.

The machine readable roadway

The death of Johsua Brown in a collision between his Tesla and a big rig has led to some reflections on automation and trust.  However, it also raises issues about in what ways our world is, or should be, readable by machines.

Death in Tesla using autopilot function

On 7 May 2016, Joshua Brown was killed as his Tesla drove underneath an 18-wheeler on US 27-A highway in Florida.  The truck was making a left turn from the westbound lanes across the eastbound lanes when the eastbound Tesla Model S struck it.  

Should your robot car kill you?

The arrival of self-driving cars poses many society-technology challenges.  For example, since self-driving cars do not possess deep-seated instincts for self-preservation, they could be programmed to react in almost any way in the event of a collision.  

Why blame humans?

A Slate post by Madeleine Clare Elish explores the role that human drivers or pilots play in semi-automated vehicles.  Semi-automated vehicles have features that take over some, but not all, driving tasks.  

A simple example would be cruise control, now standardly available in cars, or the autopilot function of modern airliners.

Insurance for self-driving cars

British insurance company Adrian Flux has issued an insurance policy to cover self-driving cars.  Highlights of the policy include coverage in the following circumstances:

  • Crashes due to loss of communication with satellites or software failures;
  • Crashes due to hacking.

Even failure of drivers to take manual control in these cases is covered.

However, other situations are not covered, including:

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