FREE NEWSLETTER

Should we all hail the driverless taxi?

10 April 2019

Assuming the all-clear had been given on the Boeing 737 Max, would you be comfortable boarding one to take a flight? I bet you in most cases the answer would be no.

Of the nearly 400 planes that are currently flying, two have crashed within five months of each other killing everyone on board. According to the black box data from the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight,the crash was caused by a faulty sensor that erroneously activated an automated system on the plane, a series of events also suspected in an Indonesian disaster involving the same jet last year. Two planes out of a total of 400 represents a half of one per cent.

General Motors is looking to launch its level 5 robo-taxis this year while Ford is looking to deploy self-driving taxis “in scale” in 2021. According to a report in April last year from ABI, a marketing firm, roughly 8 million vehicles will be shipped that year with self-driving capabilities of level 3 or higher. In Level 3 autonomous driving, the car can monitor its environment, but needs the driver’s attention for safety. In Level 4, drivers can read, sleep or simply watch the landscape as the car drives by, but it is not suitable for every environment it encounters. Level 5 is the full-blown self-driving vehicle in any environment that a human can.

If the same half a per cent of sensor errors as witnessed on the two Boeing 737 Max airplanes, it would mean that there would be 400,000 crashes a year on the roads. This is obviously not going to happen, but it does show that the blind trust put into software as the answer to all solutions is dangerous.

The obvious proving ground to test all new technology, including sensors, software and so on, is on the race track, which is where Roborace and Formula E come into their own. I would like to see boundaries further pushed with Roborace, for example, racing on figure of eight circuits or half the field running clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. In my view, this would really help develop technologies that are more appropriate for the typical urban roadways.

Will it happen? I doubt it, but it should.

William Kimberley is the Editor-In-Chief of RACE TECH

Partners

Latest issue

FREE Newsletter

Stay up to date and a chance to win 1 Years Subscription*

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Latest Tweets

Stay up to date with our social world

RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
29 Sep
Nissan Motorsport unveils the Nissan Z GT4 - https://t.co/92AaFSmcPO
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
28 Sep
Limited availability so book your tickets now! https://t.co/2RftifsTCN https://t.co/WzMPSOlh7p
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
21 Sep
F1 announce dates for first Las Vegas Grand Prix #F1 #LasVegas #Formula1 @F1 #LasVegasGP https://t.co/nqqJxgamw4 https://t.co/cBW6K9EEw0
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
12 Sep
Latet issue of RACE TECH out now. Don't miss: AUDI ENTERS #F1 - Formula 1’s #Sustainability agenda reaped its first… https://t.co/tS71oa5JOg
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
12 Sep
Your free ticket! Motorsport Engineering & Technology Show - MIA CTS2022 - https://t.co/8KC89BkNtB
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
8 Sep
Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II 1926 - 2022 https://t.co/GkRFlm6PKX
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
2 Sep
In case you missed it this week - @audisport to enter #F1 in 2026 following new #Sustainability rules #Audihttps://t.co/uIdS6ph1ka
RACE TECH magazine @RaceTechmag
24 Aug
Daniel Ricciardo to leave Mclaren Racing at the end of the year. Watch his video announcement here #danielricciardohttps://t.co/ugPNMC1yfm