General considerations, Robocars aren’t the future

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General considerations, Robocars aren’t the future. They are just reality.

Every big player in carmakers industry, is looking at some kind of robocar and some them in hi-tech is developing it. Joint ventures between these two fields are springing up rapidly and some of these cars are ready yet to go on our streets. The problem (one of the main ones) is regulation.

In the U.S. there is just some regulation on this matter and in those States in which there isn’t, robocars are allowed to face.

A step behind trough technology.

Robotic tech who allows self-driving motion, goes hand in hand with the interactive co-pilot (as the one projected by Toyota), id est a technology who drives with – and not instead of – the human driver: it does it advising him if it “feels” the driver is tired, or it corrects errors in driving, avoiding inappropriate maneuvers and suggesting the correct ones.

Both these technologies would seem antithetic and, anyway, the second one prodromal to the first one. So, you might think that is useless developing the co-pilot car if the robocar just exists. Maybe it is, but looking at social behaviours, instead of technology projection or regulation issues, can give us some suggestion.

Why we drive? To move from a place to another, of course.

That is the point: why we move from a place to other technologies.
Indeed, it is possible that we will not need to travel for pleasure sometimes?

This kind of viewpoint affects business, as well as social behaviours and regulations: people could prefer to consider it.

But we also need to self-drive) a Ferrari, because of the thrill of high speed ..if it will be possible yet.

So, it is plausible that we will face a world in which self-driving cars and co-piloted cars will coexist, torbikes and bicycles. In fact, there will be no big problems when robocars will interact in robo-highways (Smart-roads IoT connected, in which will be allowed only robocars), but problems raise when self-driving cars must interact with heterogeneous traffic (human-driven cars, pedestrians, bikes etc.).

A first, little legal consideration, is that robocars will have to respect Traffic Code and connected laws, but people will have not!
To explain better: a fundamental freedom is which of breaking rules (accepting consequences) and it is a social – maybe anthropological – necessity for humans to have the chance of doing it. For this reason, in a heterogeneous traffic (self-driving cars plus human interaction) robocars will respect rules, people not necessarily. This may cause some chaos..

On contrary, beyond formal rules, there are several social rules and common behaviours that will be hard for robocars to practice.
People knows that sometimes, driving following all the traffic rules is more dangerous than driving in a “lean” way: it is proper the difference between the way to drive in a driving license examination, than in the “real”, daily, traffic.
So robocars could have some problem in facing these unforeseeable, incoherent, human way to drive. Again, humans have a certain “feel” in looking at roads and other drivers. So they cann feel when the front driver is distracted or is bad driving. Robocars cannot. And again, how self-driving will “read” temporary road signs or conflicting signs (as sometimes in Italy happens!) if they won’t be connected?

All these aspects affect many issues (both practical and legal): how to program a car? Which practical and ethical criteria a programmer must follow?
For instance, will a robocar discard a pigeon in the middle of the road? If robocar does it, it could put in danger pedestrian or other cars. If it doesn’t there will be ethical problems and, overall, which will be the distinction criteria in not discarding a pigeon instead of discarding a cat, a dog, a cow …or people. Will the criteria be the size? Or will it be the moral value (and which moral value) accorded to the obstacle?
Other big problem related to choose.
But again what will happen if the owner is an old person and the pedestrian is a child and the self-driving car choose to choose running over one pedestrian on the right side, rather than three on the left side? Again, and if the one on the right side is a child?
These practical, ethical and legal issues are well represented by the “Trolley problem” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOpf6KcWYyw).

It is also another practical issue on this to “speak” with the same traffic system, IoT connected, there may be some problems. Which will be the programming criteria? We will have a robocar who kill the passengers or the pedestrians? Or a robocar who will choose in a random way?!
Other problem related to follow).

Legally speaking all these issues affect liability. It is the main issue about robocars …but maybe overestimated, just from this writer personal viewpoint.

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