Autonomous Driving failures help Improve Innovation

11 April 2018

Well, it happened..In the same week we have had 2 fatalities due to a machine or a human not operating correctly or as it was meant to operate. Uber and Tesla did not have the best two weeks of their existence for sure.

 

I was planning to write a post about some of the technical problems that may cause the accident, the importance of he UX/UI or the sociological impact that these accident would have in society. However, I decided to wait, wait and see how the general public reacts to these unfortunately events.

After two weeks reading all the feedback from a variety of sources – media, social platforms, the technical forums, the legislators and many more – I was surprised to find everyone was taken by surprise and was hence quite sceptical and negative in their judgements. Titles such as: “A person has been kill from a self-driving car”, “This could not have happened”, “Legislation should be implemented”, “Self-Driving vehicles are clearly unsafe”, “Tesla, Google and Uber are in trouble” and the list was literally endless.

Unfortunately – or some may argue fortunately for the sake of innovation and moving forward minus the fatalities potentially caused – in the history of transportation we have always had failures and mostly loss of human lives. Whether that was due to technical, human errors, weather conditions or sabotage it is still a fact of reality in the industry.  All these factors apply unilaterally to all transportation systems, from cars, buses, trains, and planes so an accident was only..naturally going to occur.

Nevertheless if it is for roads and cars to achieve full autonomy, companies like Uber and Tesla need to take such risks in order to challenge the status quo and make improvements in their technology and how the human factors plays a part. Innovation is about taking risks, failing, learning from your errors and making sure they do not occur again.

 

Hopefully this experience will provide both companies with plentiful insight and information to make sure that accidents like them can be avoided in the near future and help them get a better understanding (And hence control) of their systems. What is more, I am also certain that legislators will also take a close look in order to better understand how they could work with the tech companies and other parties to make regulations regarding autonomous vehicles and the humans involves (drivers & pedestrian) more effective and efficient. I am also positive that the general public will not change its perception or view of autonomous vehicles (and the benefits they could bring) overnight as that would certainly be an error.Finally, I do hope and wish that other companies take the innovative approach of risk and failure such as Tesla and Uber, in order to compete with them in the autonomous driving market.

Article by David Fidalgo

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