If you thought Google was about ready to take over the world with their talk of giving us smart devices in our homes and making driverless cars, it looks like plenty of other options will be available. With Apple possibly soon getting into the smart device market, General Motors is now slowly going to be getting into the driverless car market. But they seem to be spooked by Google’s strong push into doing the same, and they’ve been quoted in the media saying they’re planning on Google being a competitive threat to their cars.
The reason for the above is because GM isn’t quite as gung-ho in driverless cars as Google is. They still plan to make cars you drive yourself, though they’re also planning something that might be the compromise to those who fear cars being 100% autonomous. In the end, those who want a combination of autonomy and complete control of their cars may end up making GM or other carmakers more successful by the time driverless cars go mainstream.
Technology GM is Working On
General Motors has been working on some autonomous technology on their cars that allows the car to take over only when the driver wants it. With cruise control already around in cars for decades, GM is working on Super Cruise Technology that allows more elaborate autonomy when you’re driving on highways. Before long, they’ll have cars that allows automatic braking, plus maintaining the speed of the car while doing lane following on highways. But, so far, they still believe in the idea that you can still take control of the car when you want to.
Google should probably ask a million dollar question to the public before assuming they’re going to want 100% autonomous cars. Do people really want 100% driverless cars, or a car that only allows it as an option? GM might have hit on the magic formula in assuring that autonomous technology becomes more of a test to see what more people want rather than the assumption the public wants it all.
This isn’t to say GM isn’t testing the idea of a completely autonomous vehicle. They’re reportedly working on one prototype in China, which gives indications that it’s off on the horizon. Bloomberg.com has also said their early prototype looks impossibly small and overly stylistic besides.
You can see why GM will want to stick their neck out in driverless cars just in case the public truly does warm to them being completely autonomous. The media has already pointed out the benefits of what they could do, or at least in certain situations. Everything from preventing tired or drunk drivers (the best possible scenario) to having a mobile office have been talked about as ways it could change the world.
Regardless, the public may be learning a new lesson on placing all trust in technology, perhaps from pop culture.
Google’s Reliance on Technology
It seems that Google has been pushing the philosophy on the public that we should just relax and let technology do the work for us. There’s been some reluctance by the public on this, and it’s being felt through some of the criticisms of Google Glass. While the latter is also due to clumsy technology that wasn’t ironed out before release, Google Glass is also meant to help technology take over. All those lessons about artificial intelligence going awry in movies may be sinking in to the public who realize the value of human beings, despite our flaws.
We may be soon applying the same philosophy to the driverless car throughout the next decade. In that regard, General Motors might have the best hunch in people letting the car take over only temporarily until we feel comfortable enough where we can go back to our usual driving ways. Even if Google will still apparently give people options to take over a driverless car if necessary, it’s only going to be in the case of emergencies. And in those cases, it’s not going to necessarily prevent a horrible accident from happening first if the tech goes awry.
As powerful as Google is, you can expect some smarter options to ultimately become more popular in the fields where Google thinks they may dominate. “Autonomous cars, only when you need it” may become GM’s catchphrase in driverless car ads of the 2020s.