In Boston’s Seaport district, Lyft, a taxi service that offers riders a local driver, is now offering a “no driver” option, also known as the robot option. We suppose the technical term is “self-driving car,” and we guess we should say up front that there WILL be a human being behind the wheel of all Lyft vehicles, with those captaining SD cars acting as a sort of “safety officer” (in case the car goes Terminator?).
Is that strange to anyone else?
A human driving a robot driving a human? Who’s really in control of the car? (Or the human?)
This is getting pretty existential and weird for us, but it seems the rest of the world is already on-board with the self-driving car thing, probably hoping that this now means they can do their make-up, shave, read, sleep, or play Angry Birds all the way to work. We’d be down with that…
…except that we’ve seen enough apocalyptic movies and read enough dystopian literature to at least make us arch a brow.
Now, don’t get Lyft wrong—they’ve been testing these driverless (sort-of) cars in Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in Boston. It’s true that this park doesn’t much resemble the Boston roads (on which we’ve personally driven), but…
At least we can rest at ease knowing that the technology behind the self-driving cars (manufactured by the new company NuTonomy) originally came out of MIT. They’re smart over there, right? And it doesn’t matter that the self-driving cars have been operating for less than a year… right??
Of course, NuTonomy doesn’t corner the market with Lyft, who plans to use other self-driving companies like Waymo and Drive.ai to offer rides in San Francisco and elsewhere. And Uber has been driving itself with autonomous cars in Pennsylvania and Arizona (of all places) for a while now. (We would like to point out that Uber is being sued by Waymo for stealing SD car secrets, and Uber’s SD cars have been involved not just in traffic violations but also accidents…) And come on, airplanes have been flying themselves for years (for those of you who didn’t know…)
At the end of the day, as long as people get from point A to point B safely, we imagine they wouldn’t mind if a yellow dog drove the car. The question remains: how safe are these cars really?