Self-driving cars threatening Road safety

by Suniti Arora

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla

Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, has lifted a digital barrier on the Tesla’s technology this week. People can finally let their Tesla drive itself in the Toronto downtown area while they sit back and do their own thing. The full self-driving beta program (FSD) launched in March across Canada. But when people tried to use it in downtown they were unable to. Elon Musk responded saying “streetcars are not yet handled well by FSD.”

The FSD feature was banned in the southern area of Bloor-Danforth. Now as the prohibition is lifted the public is excited to try out the feature. Not everyone is on board.

The SSF, Seneca Student Federation, is very concerned about road safety and one of the members, Angela Marquez, studying Interactive Media Design at Seneca, said she is 50:50 about this decision.

“That’s very dangerous because if we rely on technology we tend to lose our skills, and if something happens, who is to be blamed? They will probably blame Elon Musk but not the person driving. I think not everyone has the ability to manage it, but it will help people who cannot drive properly. ”

Angela Marquez, Event staff, Seneca@York

“Eventually it might be a good idea but I don’t think it is safe right now” said Alana Shivprasad, a Seneca student. Some students had to say it is not new for them so see Tesla self-driven.

“I live in Vaughan so I don’t know much about downtown. But I have seen many people using self-driving feature in Tesla since a long time. I don’t really care about it.” said Meet Parmar, another Seneca student.

Authorities are also worried this might not be a great idea just yet.

“I think there’s a significant risk until we have a broader understanding of how this algorithm works,” said Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League.

Constable Sean Shapiro of  Traffic Services division of the Toronto Police Service warned the public this is not the time to pull your cellphones out or they could be charged for it. He said, “You still have to be an active participant, and if you choose not to, you are putting your life and the life of others at risk.”

The cars are not completely automatic. The software is only available to the owners and those who have a driving score of at least 80. It also requires for the owner to keep their hand on the wheel and be ready to take control anytime.

There are several other companies testing out self-driving vehicles for commercial use. Loblaws partnered with a self-driving company called Gatik in October this year, and it could be the first company in Canada to deliver groceries via self-driving trucks.

More than $250 billion have been invested in self-driving vehicles in the last three years. According to Robo Global, level 5 autonomy is more than 10 years away but self-driving vehicles will surely impact the industry in the next 3-5 years.




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