By Sean Reyes, Chief Marketing Officer, Recall Masters
An interesting “Catch-22” currently exists in the automotive technology space, as covered in a recent article in the New York Times. It’s been known for a while that a controversy exists regarding Tesla’s self-driving feature. There have been deaths and more than a few accidents, along with several lawsuits. Technology is cool. I get it. And this feature is novel – and convenient. But these cars are driving on public roads next to vehicles and drivers that don’t have these features while Tesla drivers get more comfortable and, presumably, pay less attention to the road.
According to the New York Times, in June, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an order mandating that all accidents involving vehicles with self/autonomous vehicles must be reported. Most people assumed this was only directed at Tesla. The truth is the order named 108 carmakers and technology companies currently offering autonomous driving features! This order is much more expansive than the average consumer could possibly imagine!
Thus, the dilemma posed in the article: “Does regulation make us safer, or will it slow the adoption of technology that makes us safer?”
On the one side, the argument is that regulations applied to self/autonomous cars ensure that owners of the vehicles are safer while driving, along with others sharing the road. Drivers (even bad ones) are much better at conducting regular driving-related activities such as paying attention to their surroundings, knowing when it’s safe to pass a vehicle, or when to apply the brakes and gas back and forth for heavy traffic or traffic light. We can intuitively assess bad situations and react more appropriately than an engineered mixture of algorithms, computer chips, and programming.
On the other side is the argument that the evolution of technology will make vehicles inherently safer for everyone. By stifling creativity and technological advances, heavy regulation will handcuff manufacturers and technology companies, resulting in further delays. To effectively experiment with new technologies, vehicles need to be tested in real-world conditions. This requires that they are on the road with other vehicles. Of course, according to the article, there will always be a human in these vehicles with “experimental” features to observe, notate any hiccups and, ultimately, take control of the vehicle if necessary. Kind of like a student driver. The driving instructor’s vehicle typically has a steering wheel, gas pedal, and brake on both the driver’s AND the passenger’s side in case the instructor needs to take over.
Which do you think would be safer?
More regulation that requires these technology-filled vehicles to pass certain tests before going on the road? Or, allowing the manufacturers and technology companies the freedom to test and experiment with new features in real-life driving situations on public roads along with drivers and passengers in regular vehicles for the sake of science, technological evolution, and improved safety?
I’d be interested in knowing which you agree with.
About the Author
Sean Reyes oversees all marketing efforts at Recall Masters as Chief Marketing Officer. Sean’s experience spans more than 25 years of business development and strategic marketing experience, having worked in the automotive, healthcare, finance, and technology industries to serve customers like American Express, Toshiba, Western Digital, Cox Communications, Gateway, Novartis, Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, HP, Confident Financial Solutions, MyCustomerData, Toyota of Orange, and Fletcher Jones Mercedes Benz. While he has an accomplished portfolio of design, production, and coding skills, his strength is in “go-to-market” business modeling and digital marketing strategies.