OPINION: Self-Driving Cars Shouldn’t Be On Our Streets

It is the year 2020 and gender-roles have long been abolished, celebrities are governing our people and self-driving cars are flooding the streets of our mechanized society.

…. Or maybe not. Sure, gender-roles may still be given to people who don’t want them, Kanye West may be the next Donald Trump, but as for self-driving cars, the number of inevitable possibilities outweigh the new pretense for our laziness.

On March 18 in Tempe, Arizona, safety driver Rafaela Vasquez was looking down at her phone, while one of Uber’s new self-driving vehicles somehow did not detect what was in front of it, thus the car struck a pedestrian walking with her bike and killed her. This news, as horrible as it is, is wildly more shocking because of the fact that the test-driver was sitting right there in the seat, but did not intervene.

This tragedy creates a number of skepticisms as to whether or not this technology is even advanced enough to be practiced on public roads. The crash was not only the mistake of Uber’s LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology but also that of the driver and the safety protocols which they work under. Although the test-drivers had to undergo rigorous training in order to even qualify to be part of this, how can one be expected to pay attention to what is in front of them if they aren’t actually doing anything? After all, we are human.

Hitting all of the landmarks, such as successfully being able to find a parking place, park, and keeping a safe distance between them and another vehicle are all to be proud about, but that does not mean the technology is good enough to react to an unforeseen event. The technology, as avant-garde as it is, should not be on the streets until developers can find a way for these simple mistakes to never happen.