Uber has been around awhile—as you know it’s an app you can use to summon a car and driver. Uber connects you, a person who needs to get somewhere, with the driver, a person who will take you there in their car. Basically, Uber and Lyft took over the industry; traditional taxi services are finding it hard to stay in business with the lower fares these ridesharing drivers are able to charge.
The concept of self-driving cars has been around for a while, too. Although Google and other companies have been experimenting with self-driving cars for years, a Russian company called Yandex has a taxi service using them in Las Vegas. Let’s check it out at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Show your students the following video [5:05]:
Riding in a Driverless Taxi at CES in 2019!
- If you had the chance, would you take a ride in a self-driving car? In other words, do you trust a robot to take you safely from one place to another? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable answers.)
Driving seems pretty easy—and much of the time, it is. You’re just cruising along in traffic with occasional stops at red lights. But what happens when the guy in front of you suddenly slams on the brakes to avoid hitting a squirrel? What if a little girl chasing a ball darts out in front of you unexpectedly? Theoretically, the self-driving cars have technology that picks up the data on those random incidents and responds accordingly.
But so far, self-driving cars still have problems. The guy in the video said that some of the added features on the Yandex made him feel safer than when he tried using the autopilot on a Tesla. In March of 2019, the “driver” of a 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric sedan was killed in an accident when the car was in self-driving mode. The crash occurred when a truck tractor pulling a semitrailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to stop. The man in the Tesla was killed instantly.
There are moments when a human can react instinctively—and hopefully, prevent an accident. In the case with the Tesla driver, even the human failed to react in time. There’s not enough data yet to be able to properly compare safety or accidents with human driver autos vs. driverless autos.
- What would some advantages be to driverless autos? What would be some disadvantages? (Accept all reasonable answers. Students may comment that the absence of alcohol, drugs, tiredness, and road rage would be advantages of driverless autos. Disadvantages might be failure to process data that a human would recognize as dangerous or a tech malfunction.)
For now, driven and non-driven vehicles each have their own set of problems. Nothing is completely failproof. Leading and responding to the unexpected things life throws our way can be the same unless God is in the driver’s seat. We can always rely on Him to lead us. Let’s look at how God guided Samuel in a famous story from the Old Testament.
Preliminary Report Highway HWY19FH008