Self-Driving? Or Self-Destructive?

nutonomy self-driving car boston autonomous vehicle

(Facebook/nuTonomy)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Congratulations to Boston-based company nuTonomy, which has won approval to run self-driving cars throughout the city.

Proponents of this new technology say it can ultimately lead to fewer accidents, less congestion, lower gas consumption, and more productivity for the passenger.

Plus, think of how cool it would be to have your car drop you off at your destination, then go park itself and pick you back up when you’re ready?

Sorry, valets, time to find another line of work!

I wish this business the best, but as a congenitally skeptical Bostonian, I do have some questions.

Some expert observers of self-driving car technology say the fail-safe mechanism – the presence of a human capable of taking control if the technology goofs – doesn’t work, because the more people ride in a self-driving car the less attentive they become to what’s going on.

Boston OKs Self-Driving Car Testing Citywide
Boston OKs Self-Driving Car Testing Citywide
A self-driving car company is getting the green light to test its vehicles on a Colonial-era street network with a reputation for aggressive human drivers.

Given how many knuckleheads you see eating their lunch, doing their nails, or texting their brains out behind the wheel, how much worse will it be when they don’t even have to touch the wheel?

Also, will these self-driving cars have a heart?

Will they automatically stop to let an elderly or disabled person cross the street, even if they’re not in a crosswalk? How about a stray dog?

And let’s face it, if you don’t get aggressive in certain situations on the roads around here, you’ll get eaten alive. Will nuTonomy cars know when to do that, and when not to?

Smartphone technology was supposed to make our lives easier, and has in many ways, but has it made our lives better?

I’m wondering the same thing about the big promises being made for self-driving cars.

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