Why Won’t Autonomous Cars Have a Steering Wheel?

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Online, news, The Daily Drive

 
This image provided by Google shows a very early version of Google's prototype self-driving car. The two-seater won't be sold publicly, but Google on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 said it hopes by this time next year, 100 prototypes will be on public roads. (AP Photo/Google)

At this point in time, the big question surrounding self-driving cars is no longer “if,” but “when?” Once consigned to fantasy novels and sci-fi movies, there is now a very real chance that self-driving vehicles will be on the road–and sooner rather than later. However, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered before they can replace human drivers on the road.

That said, there are already a lot of prototypes that are being tested by companies such as Google, and there is one particular feature that has taken a lot of people by surprise–or rather, a feature that is missing altogether. Many of the early versions of a self-driving car have been created without a steering wheel, which is obviously a bit concerning for many. Putting your life in the hands of a smart vehicle is already scary enough, but to remove from that the ability to override the vehicle in case of emergency?

However, some research conducted by Stanford University has shed some light on this decision. According to this research, as reported by The Washington Post, “drivers resuming control from Level 3 vehicles functioning in autonomous mode take 10 seconds just to attain the level of ability that a drunk driver possesses. And to get back to full driving competence takes 60 seconds.”

It turns out, putting a vehicle back in the hands of a human would be far more dangerous than letting them drive in the first place, and certainly more dangerous than simply letting the vehicle take control. So, once self-driving cars start to emerge for use by the general public, don’t expect them to come equipped with steering wheels!

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