... BUT KEEP AUTONOMY ON HOLD
AS the world moves closer to cars that drive themselves, there are more questions than answers.
It’s true that cars can already drive themselves — I’ve been a passenger in a BMW 7 Series that runs autonomously for about 50 kilometres in Germany — but that’s just the start of the challenge.
We know the roads and surroundings in Australia are not suitable for self-driving cars.
Anything controlled by computers needs much more certainty with the likes of road markings and signs than we can currently manage in our countryside.
Experts are also worried about how a self-driving car will cope with the uncertainties of human behaviour at the wheel of existing cars and trucks.
But Ian Robertson, the No.2 man at BMW globally, raises the biggest question of all. It has nothing to do with hardware or software, and everything to do with ethics and morals.
It’s a lot like what’s called the “Turing test” of a machine’s ability to think like a person. “Imagine that your autonomous car is heading for a crash with a truck coming the other way,” Robertson says.
“If the car does nothing, you will be killed.
“But if the car swerves away from the truck it’s going to hit a mother with her baby in a pram.
“What should the car do? And do you really want the car to make that choice?”
So the answer for Robertson is simple: “I don’t see autonomous cars coming in my lifetime.”
Change of focus: Unsighted “drivers” at the Shanghai show