Akio Toyoda, who saw a viral 911 call turn into the Toyota sudden-acceleration farce of 2009-2010, says he’s scared that a serious Autopilot accident could set autonomy back as a whole. Of course, he’s probably right. Everyone is thinking the same thing. But every inch of leash given to automated cars surely has raised the same goosebumps and will continue right through full autonomy, whenever that happens.
Ready for a soapbox mini-speech from TeslaMondo? Here goes: We elect leaders to determine whether stuff like Autopilot is reckless or not. In every country except Japan, those leaders have given the green light. Ok, so they’re not exactly elected in some countries, but you get the idea. But wait, you say, the technology is still in “beta.” So is everything else in the universe. In fact, the universe is still expanding. Shouldn’t we wait until it’s finished?
TeslaMondo says it’s not the automotive technology that’s so spooky, but the hypervigilant social media technology that’s really spooky. YouTube, Facebook etc. would make an Autopilot accident into worldwide headlines within a half hour. There’s the rub. If this were 1980, maybe we’d see more courageous rollout of autonomous driving, and a lot of other things. Nowadays, viral videos ruin careers. And hamper technology. Technology is stifling technology.
So Musk once again plays the role of the unfettered explorer. What’s next? Mars?