Picture of Automatic Robot Cars in Traffic

More and more automatic cars drive on the roads of Europe. Old people buy them, because they are more comfortable and safer to drive. There are thousands of them in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona. In some cities people already started to refuse to own the cars, because the electric robot taxis are cheaper to use than to own a car.

Robots help out in many areas. They help to build, drive, cook and serve. Often they just assist, but in the recent time they started to become completely automatic.

In the case of automatic taxis, the robotic cars seem to be perfect. Tourists can trust them to be as honest as possible. Women can sleep on the back seat and relax without feeling the eyes of a male driver.

Autonomous trains, buses and trams are more accepted by people, because they run on predefined tracks that people can predict. From experience, there is less anger with them, because you can not blame the automatic train to be to early or to late. Automatic vehicles try to be as good as possible, because they are programed to do that. When there is no driver, people just accept mistakes more easily. The errors of the robotic trains are annoying sometimes, when they stop very fast in the middle of the track to wait for the other train to pass. A very cool human driver would just roll slowly before stopping. In critical situations they master the tracks better then humans.

People are easily distracted and often make very simple mistakes with big consequences on the road. Robotic cars are more immune to those simple mistakes. Robots pay attention all the time. Automatic cars make very view mistakes that humans do. The mistakes of the robots are more complex.

The main concern with robots is that they have no foresight for the invisible. And also, the preprogrammed assumptions could be dangerously wrong, as same as it happens with humans. Let's say a woman is driving 40 km/h in a narrow street, because she knows that there could be children running out of the school during sunny days. An automatic car would drive the predefined 50 km/h, because it can not know that the children are more happy to run around during sunny days.

Robots can not read intentions of pedestrians. If two happy lovers or a mother with a child want to cross the street, human drivers can slow down and stop, because they feel good after being kind and helpful. An automatic robot car would not even consider to slow down, because it can not read the intentions of the people who want to cross the street or just to stand on the side.

This behavior could be preprogrammed into the car. So when there are a lot of people on the streets, the robotic car would just drive slower than the speed limit, because this could avoid risky situations. But it is still problematic. Outsourcing decisions to a robot is creating distrust, because the average user does not trust the programed robotic cars to be as kind and helpful as the humans can be.

Robotic cars may be less harmful and cheaper than human drivers in the long term. Their success is inevitable, as they improve every year. Their domination is only slowed down by the distrust, suspicions and concerns of the human drivers, who have reasonable concerns to be fully responsible for the mistakes of the robotic cars.

The picture of a wet road with cars in the traffic jam is from epSos.de and is free under the Creative Commons License. The original photo is in flickR.com

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