Self Driving Cars will teach us How to Drive

I am impatient to try a self driving car. I am impatient for the day when the car will know where we’re meant to be and at what time. That is when cars will be autonomous. In this future I envision that self driving cars will teach us how to drive.

For the moment learning to drive a car is problematic because you need fuel, you need a car and you need someone trusting enough to put their life and car in your hands. You also need to find enough money to pay for a driving instructor to teach you how to drive. These are seen as barriers. People say that they would like to learn but that lessons are too expensive.

Self driving cars that teach us to drive are the solution. Cars are driving themselves around California and self driving truck convoys are driving around Europe. As these cars drive and provide data for algorithms, and as exceptions are found so the algorithm is tweaked. We remember the story of the Google car confused by a track standing cyclist and by the Google car that was crashed in to by a human driven bus.

When the bugs have been ironed out, when the challenges have been overcome I visualise a future in which we will choose whether we want to use our phones to read the news or socialise or whether we want to drive the car. In this future the car will be advanced enough to teach its passenger/driver to drive. Cars already provide drivers with a lot of assistance. Breaking assist, automatic windscreen wipers, parking sensors, automatic gear box, cruise control, parking assist and speed limiters are already familiar. The car is “teaching” us to be better drivers, or at least assisting.

The next step is for cars to teach us to steer and situate the car on the road. It could warn us if we are too far to the left, too far to the right, if we are below the speed limit and creating a traffic jam or driving too fast for the road conditions ahead. At a roundabout it could remind us to indicate our intentions both when entering and leaving. It could also assist with parallel parking, backing in to a parking and more.

Once the basics have been learned we could also envision cars teaching us to drive with a trailer or caravan. Software could be written to help people negotiate bends properly, place the caravan properly in a parking and more. Driving assist can be as complete or as passive as we want.

I would like to see how self driving cars would cope with mountain roads. It would be fun to get them to go up narrow roads with traffic and teach them to get around easily. It would also be interesting to develop a behaviour which the car knows will minimise motion sickness for people not used to mountain roads.

Weather and climate affect driving ease. Cars have sensors that are optimised for driving in good weather. When cars meet, rain, snow or other conditions they may get confused by reflections or obscured road signs. Humans should be able to take over in these conditions. We have to see whether cars or people are better suited to drive in fog. In theory cars have technology that should help them see through fog so it should be safer handing control to the machine.

When autonomous cars are ubiquitous and self reliant the shift will move away from humans teaching machines how to drive. Machines will teach humans how to drive instead. In theory there should be no need for humans to drive cars anymore. Redundancy is good.

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