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Automated Driving 4 min read

Boring, unsafe and hackable? Debunking 3 popular self-driving car myths

Boring, unsafe and hackable? Debunking 3 popular self-driving car myths

Autonomous cars are either a truly exciting forthcoming technology, or a nightmare vision of a dystopian future in which dreams of individuality, speed, personal style and the freedom of the open road are replaced by boring, homogenous, robotic pods…

Alongside Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), the impending tech revolution in self-driving autonomous cars has captured the popular imagination and defines the mainstream debate about the impact of technology over the next decade (and beyond).

Yet as with any disruptive and nascent technology that promises to fundamentally improve the way we live, travel and move around the world, there are many misleading misconceptions about self-driving cars. Let’s take a look at three recent myths about how self-driving cars are going to change our near-future.

Myth 1: Car lovers will no longer enjoy the experience

One of the main concerns from self-proclaimed 'petrolheads' is that autonomous cars will mean the end of their “fun” on the roads, and they'll lose all of the pleasure they currently derive from their cars. They love the nuts and bolts and mechanics of physically being behind the wheel — why would they want to give this up?

The latest reports from some tech journalists claim that self-driving cars are dull, surmising that most of today’s current test vehicles and ‘self-driving pods’ are considered ‘slow, boring and weird’. That’s because these autonomous prototypes are driving at very low speeds around closely monitored and geographically limited areas of selected test cities and public highways.

In a decade’s time, we'll likely see much faster and more exciting autonomous cars on the roads and – for the hard-core racers that want it – no doubt there will be new styles of modifying your own vehicles features and aesthetics. Plus, true petrolheads will still be able to enjoy their ‘traditional’ track days, an underground scene that is likely to also flourish.

Myth 2: Self-driving cars are hazardous

Other autonomous world naysayers believe self-driving vehicles are potentially unsafe, with numerous safety concerns being highlighted extensively in the media, namely Tesla’s autopilot speed glitch, Uber’s fatal self-driving accident and algorithmic bias against darker-skinned pedestrians... Although human error is the main cause for accidents, if you give up human control of the car altogether, who is ultimately responsible when an accident occurs?

This is a familiar refrain when it comes to popular opinion levelled against self-driving cars. Yet the truth is that self-driving cars will be immeasurably safer than human-driven cars due to the reliability and accuracy of real-time maps and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

At HERE, we are working towards what is referred to as a ‘level 5 autonomous car’ to fully ensure the safety of those both in and out of self-driving vehicles. Also, HERE Safety Services is focused on research and development into increasingly accurate in-car sensors and rich, real-time HD maps to ensure all autonomous vehicles respond immediately to any change in road conditions.

Myth 3: Self-driving cars will be hacked

Finally, seeing as self-driving cars are going to be the places in which many of us will spend a lot of our time in the future, we need to be sure that they are safe havens in which to work, play and socialize. However, current reports claim they will be easily hacked. “Greater connectivity gives criminals more access,” read a recent report in the Financial Times.

In 2019, one of the major problems with self-driving car tests is that of data security, which could potentially leave many autonomous vehicles susceptible to hacking. Yet it should be stressed that these are still tests, not widely available public services. Despite widespread skepticism about their safety, experts are regularly quoted in reports on autonomous driving and test vehicles stating that they are “less vulnerable to hacks than human-controlled vehicles.”

Adam Hartley

Adam Hartley

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