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"Driverless cars would never be able to drive by themselves in the very worst conditions." This was the statement given by John Krafcik, the head of Google's Waymo autonomous vehicle unit according to media reports.
The development has come up after Waymo's test vehicles have been attacked and threatened on numerous occasions, prompting the backup drivers to take control of the vehicles. Driverless cars or autonomous vehicles are the inescapable future for developed countries and the fact remains that such vehicles would soon crowd the roads in major cities.
There are several companies that are undertaking the development of autonomous vehicles and there are few that have already started testing prototypes. Stage 3 autonomous vehicles have already entered production, with manufacturers like Tesla taking lead.
Stage 3 autonomous vehicles require a human driver to be present at all times and ready to take control of the vehicle immediately when asked to. Stage 4 autonomous vehicles though, would go completely autonomous and can perform all driving functions while monitoring roadway conditions for an entire trip.
This however, is limited to the operational domain design of the vehicle, which means it would not be able to drive in every condition. Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google's parent company Alphabet was founded in 2009 and started testing its first cars in 2017.
Since then, the minivans being used to test the technology have been attacked several times by residents of Phoenix, Arizona. The Arizona state police have registered 21 such instances and some of these instances are outright hilarious.
The autonomous cars are built in a way that they would not crash into a pedestrian come what may. The attackers used this to their advantage and tried to run the cars off the road by running into them.
There was another instance in which a man drove head-on towards one of the Waymo cars till it was forced to stop. People have gone to the extent of pelting stones and wielding knives at the autonomous cars.
However, Waymo had trained their backup drivers to deal with harassment and hence no legal action was taken except in one instance wherein a man pointed a gun at a Waymo backup driver.
Waymo's authorities are very well aware of the shortcomings of autonomous vehicles. John Krafcik also said that trucking is one area where autonomous vehicles could be successful as moving goods from one hub to another on a motorway is less complicated and the systems could easily be programmed to do so.
Thoughts On Capabilities Of Self-Driving Cars
It is but obvious that self-driving cars will be put to widespread use in the future, but the self-driving cars are not as capable as a human driver. This severely restricts their operational ability in the real world.
Adding to this difficulty is the opposition coming from people as the general public feels that the large companies are not concerned about the average Joe's needs. Also adding fuel to this fire is the fact that, autonomous vehicles might replace drivers in ride-hailing firms like uber. In fact, Uber had been testing self-driving cars when one of its cars crashed into a pedestrian causing a fatality.