Is the race for driverless cars over?
Here at QUINFO we strive to provide our members and social media followers with relevant and informative content, so nothing says we are getting it right like positive comments and new followers.
It should come as no surprise then that a barrage of negative comments within minutes of sharing the following Goodwood Festival of Speed video got the alarm bells ringing.
With over 1 million views in 17 hours, the video was clearly popular and being somewhat of a technology buff myself it always intrigues me as to what is possible and how the autonomous vehicle industry is advancing. It made sense to share the video on QUINFO so other members could enjoy it too. Except that they didn't...
"Who wants to watch driverless cars..." said Pedro the Pest, "...zero interest" remarked Godfrey. "What's the point just an oversized slot car" said another, followed minutes after by "what an expensive piece of shit" and simply "boring" by others.
With the virtual wind knocked out of my autonomous yacht's sails, I looked back to previous posts on our Facebook page about autonomos vehicles that had been well received. What was the difference, why the strong negative emotional response?
I believe the answer is quite straight forward actually and the one comment to the RoboRace video in particular hit the nail on the head...
What's the point?
Great question. What is the point?
The point of advancing autonomous vehicles in general is ultimately to try and make roads safer, enable people with limited or no ability to drive to be independent, and reduce fatigue on those long journeys. Driverless cars in this space makes sense, people understand it and it clearly has the potential to achieve those goals.
The point of racing however, is to be the best and to continually strive to be better than the best.
The road to achieving this involves years of practice, money, and the help of many people who are the best of the best in their particular skill. It involves making mistakes and learning from them. There are accidents, triumphs, come backs, and a whole host of emotions that the drivers, team members, spectactors and fans all feel personally along the way. The fans are part of the team, the team is part of the fans - the highs, the lows, the travel, meeting idols - the list goes on - we're all in it together.
Where to from here?
It's clear that while driverless vehicles bring positive emotions and abilities that are currently out of reach to us in a day to day sense, in a high performance environment there is no obvious advantage and it simply takes away all the things that make driving and spectating enjoyable, interesting and inclusive.
So was sharing the video the right thing to do? I think so, the honest feedback of our followers not only highlighted the questions, but also provided the answer, making us stop and think about it.
What are your thoughts? Is there a place in racing for driverless cars or is the race over before it's even started?