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At least they cannot recall drivers...

April 2, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
If my little set of missives a couple weeks ago about the issues surrounding the potential for self-driving cars by the end of this decade didn’t hit home yet, let’s get a little clearer today.

GM has recalled nearly 7 million cars this year.

That’s 1.2 million Cobalts, Ions and G-5s for the ignition switch issue that’s getting all the attention. That’s 1.3 million Cobalts (maybe some already facing the ignition recall, but still…), Malibus, Ions, G6 and Auras for steering troubles. And, as I understood one story, some of these cars had previous recall work done that now is being recalled. There’s an additional 1.2 million sport utes with side airbag problems. There are 303,000 full-sized vans with instrument panel troubles, 172,000 Cruzes with potential axle issues and 172,000 listed as “other” on the CNN Money site. Chrysler recalled nearly 900,000 cars on Tuesday for potential issues when a brake booster gets wet and freezes. It already had a low-beam headlight recall on less than 50,000 Chargers for a headlight issue.

Tesla figured out that a little titanium armor goes a long way to preventing headling-grabbing battery fires.

Toyota is paying $1.2 billion to settle a federal criminal probe into unintended acceleration.

Nissan has recalled a million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada because of a software issue that could cause an airbag not to deploy in an accident. Honda has recalled under 10,000 Civics because of potential tire damage, but it’s also recalled 886,000 Odyssey vans because of potential fuel leaks. Meanwhile, Nissan has announced it intends to market a car with autonomous capabilities bky 2020.

Tesla says it may have a “co-pilot” capable car to assist the driver by 2017. GM has shown prototypes. Toyota and Audi have shown prototypes, and, Google continues to drive the move toward going driverless.

Ford already has cars that park themselves and has shown an automated Fusion that could be pointing the way toward the 2020s.

So, I ask plainly here. If these folks cannot engineer a car without issues, sometimes even before it’s sold to the public if the evidence in the Cobalt recall is indeed true, do we really believe we should take our hands off the wheel to let vehicles the car companies unleashed on us take over the driving duties? Even if they come out of the factory driving right to your house, how will they be working in a year? In five years? In 10 years?

Does that wall coming up in your windshield look a little big to you?


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