Tech Stuff

Autonomous Vehicles: They’re Coming, and We Should Embrace Them

When I was a kid and obtained my first driving license, I realized that it was my responsibility to learn to operate a vehicle. The thought of punching in a street address and having the car deliver me there would never, ever cross my mind.

However, today the trend is moving toward software programmers driving the vehicle for us. Forrest Gump’s now-iconic quote “Stupid is as stupid does” immediately comes to mind, but there’s more to the story.

I’m certain that I’m not the only one who is incensed at the lack of attention many drivers display. Between texting, fiddling with their iPods, applying makeup at 65 miles per hour, etc., these “drivers” pose a real danger. Too many vehicle owners today simply do not realize that they are operating a potentially lethal weapon and that they have assumed the heavy responsibility to operate the vehicle properly.

The issue of driver inattentiveness is compounded by the plethora of “innovations” offered by the auto makers, such as eye-drawing display screens, self-parking capabilities, lane change warnings, sensor-assisted braking, and more. While many of these systems certainly contribute to safety, the public perception is slowly being altered from being responsible for vehicle operation to “going along for the ride,” relieving themselves of the task of paying attention and controlling the vehicle.

Am I the only one bothered by the current car ads that show a driver doing something stupid, only to be saved by the car’s driver aids? As far as I’m concerned, the driver should be pulled out of the car and forced to watch while the officer tears up the driver’s license!

But I digress. Putting my personal feelings aside about autonomous vehicles, there’s really a number of cases where this technology will prove invaluable. Face it... some people are afraid to drive, or simply don’t like to drive.

Most importantly, as drivers age, they can reach a stage at which their eyesight and reflexes have diminished to a point where they can no longer safely control a vehicle. The advent of self-driving vehicles allows seniors who cannot safely control a vehicle with the continued mobility that they need.

While self-driving vehicle technology platforms still need to be refined, the systems are being improved at a rapid pace. Current estimates are that within the next 10 to 20 years, the technology will reach a point of being viable and safe.

Instead of wearing blinders and ignoring this advanced technology, learn about it and embrace it. With education and training your shop will flourish and succeed in the years to come. And you can count on ASP to continue to keep you up-to-date with the latest in new technologies.   ●

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