I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.
I had my first experience with Hands-Free driving the other day. It was interesting...
I'm a huge proponent of the world of automation. I'm also a key proponent of the concept of the driverless car. Now driverless car represents an autonomous vehicle. There is a human in the driver's seat, just that the car can operate without the human directly interfering. Our new car has hands-free driving. That means that you can, as you cruise down the highway, turn on the cruise control, and the vehicle will enter hands-free, autonomous driving. In fairness to the car manufacturer, I won't mention the car's manufacturer. I've seen several TV Commercials showing hands-free driving and what hands-free can do for the driver. The first time I engaged in the hands-free driving mode, my hands were very near the wheel. I was more comfortable the second time but still had my hands near the wheel just in case.
Let me back that up with some statistics; most automobile crashes in the United States today are rear-ended collisions. Simply reducing rear-end collisions on streets and highways would result in significantly fewer accidents every year. Fewer rear-end collisions would reduce overall accidents considerably. So as I said, I am a fan of autonomous cars. The thing that makes me stop is if we can remove one type or reduce one type of accident (rear-end), we would decrease the overall insurance cost for everyone. Fewer accidents mean fewer claims, and fewer claims will reduce the insurance companies' charges. Plus, there is the reality of reduced time away from work dealing with an accident and fewer injuries with fewer accidents.
The easy way to look at this would be to say, ultimately, that light came on, I pulled my hands off the wheel, and I turned to have a conversation. That is not how it happened, but perhaps that will be how it happens in the future. I noticed that the light came on, hands-free, and I took my hands off the wheel. My hands, however, were right at the wheel. After a while, I put my hands in my lap, but I had them by the wheel several times. I suspect that you're supposed to do in the great sense of what autonomous driving will be for the next 4 to 5 years. Trust but verify, as my father always said. So we drove along, and I was getting more comfortable when suddenly the road had a huge curve. That curve, honestly, made me very nervous. I cannot explain it, but it made me nervous. So, as we approached the curve, I had my hands by but not on the wheel. Failure was not an option, but I did want to see what the car could do. It handled the curve perfectly, but I will have my hands by the wheel the next time!
Trust but verify is so important.
That is an important piece of the process going forward. The importance or critical piece trust but verify. I put my hands right by the wheel but did not touch it as we went around the curve. The vehicle stayed exactly in the same place throughout the middle of the lane. My hands were ready to seize the wheel if needed, but I'd never needed to take the wheel. I suspect the more I get used to it, the longer I will be able to go with my hands off the wheel. I would know one saying; you cannot tow a trailer and hands-free mode.
As more and more drivers utilize hands-free mode on their cars, my feeling is you see a reduction in accidents. The adjustable cruise control kicked in when the cars ahead slowed down and vehicles slowed down. It maintained the same distance between us and the car ahead of us when we started. Now I tend to drive two seconds between myself and the car ahead. But I did try it the second time, starting the hands-free mode about car lengths behind the car ahead of me. The X-ray system immediately slows the car and quickly gets the greater distance. That made me feel even better. I like to drive with space between me, and the carts running give me time to react if they suddenly slam on the brakes. It's also the way my father and grandfather talk drive.
Overall, I will honestly say that the hands-free driving experience was more stressful than regular driving. I assume that is the way it will be for most people. After a while, I also have to say that I was much more comfortable with the hands-free driving than when I started. So while the stress was greater at to beginning, in the end, the stress was lower than when it was just me driving. I could now see what other cars were doing, not as worried about the car ahead. I was able not to be as focused on the road directly ahead of me. I was still ready to grab the wheel at any point. So overall, my first experience with hands-free driving was impressive.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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