Are self-driving cars ever going to actually happen? Well, maybe not, as the ongoing AI-led technology repeatedly fails to work as intended.
Over the past decade, electric car company Tesla has popularised the idea of self-driving vehicles. From the rough Autopilot to the crowd-swerving Full Self Driving, the technology is failing to evolve as it should.
United States Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, is aware of the ongoing self-driving vehicle issue. After years of fighting Elon Musk’s Tesla, the ex-presidential candidate has broadened target, this time fighting the entire self-driving industry.
Buttigieg criticised the current trend of vehicular self-driving tools being released in “beta” states. For example, Tesla’s full self-driving systems are classed as beta products. After years on the market, the unfinished software is still suffering from fatal crashes alongside other technological issues with Tesla vehicles.
“It feels like the widespread use of autonomous driving is seven years away, and it’s been seven years away for 10 years,”Buttigieg said via Jalopnik. “So the question is, will it be seven years away 10 years from now, or will we actually be getting somewhere?”
The politician cast doubt on the entire industry of self-driving. With AI systems causing crashes and other issues, Buttigieg is uncertain if autonomous driving will ever truly happen.
“There is no car that you can buy today from a dealer where you don’t have to be paying attention at all times when you’re driving,” he said. “Technology is not always the answer to everything.”
Despite this, the politician did explain that human drivers are far from perfect. Just like autonomous systems, there are large numbers of crashes with as many as 40,000 fatalities a year. However, the technology should be better.
With this in mind, Buttigieg believes that the focus should be on “safer” vehicles. Once vehicles are safe, then we can focus on autonomy without issue.
Of course, fatalities are not the only issues with self-driving cars at the moment. Other technological issues are also present, such as self-driving taxis shutting down major roads as they all randomly shut down.
These types of tech issues are far too common for such a huge industry. If self-driving is going to take work away from humans, it should at least do it well.