Would You Ride In a Autonomous Vehicle?

Autonomous Vehicle
The 2016 Acura ILX has many of the new technologies leading towards self-driving cars

And would you feel safer in one developed by Google or a car manufacturer?

It seems like every time I test drive a new car, I discover a new technology that moves us closer to fully autonomous driving. There are audio and visual warnings when you change lanes and are too close to another car, beeps when you park too close to another vehicle or the curb, overrides that won’t let teens exceed a certain speed limit and adaptive cruise control, that automatically slows down your car when traffic ahead slows.

Where does all this technology come from? And who is making sure it’s safe for our roads and drivers?

It turns out that the road to autonomous driving is more of a race: car companies and tech companies are staking out the path and they all want to get there first.

The autonomous driving think tank at work

At the recent SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) World Congress in Detroit, Honda offered a deeper look at its AcuraWatch technology, available on 2016 Acuras and Hondas. Road Departure Mitigation can sense if you are veering off the road, steering you back on course and braking.

Autonomous Vehicle

Cars can detect other moving and stationary cars or pedestrians. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The Adaptive Cruise Control will automatically bring you back up to speed after a traffic slow down, and if the three seconds it takes for the car to recalibrate is too slow for you, you can tap the accelerator or hit the resume button to bring the car up to speed.

But most important is how the car can detect a pedestrian or an oncoming or stopped car and automatically stop your vehicle to avoid a collision.

When industry advances, it forces governments to keep pace

I did not get to the SEA World Congress in time to hear Toshio Yokoyama, Senior Chief Engineer, Honda R&D in his panel discussion on the autonomous vehicle race, but according to the Detroit Bureau, “Google and the other Silicon Valley companies have helped force changes in the mindset of automakers and set the stage for a regulatory revolution by forcing legislators in California, Nevada and other states and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to begin revising laws and regulations.”

OK, good point

Meanwhile, Google Car’s Ray Kurzweil says self-driving cars will save lives. “Google cars have gone close to a million miles without incident,” he said.

As reported in the NDTV Gadgets, Kurzweil added, “Some day an autonomous car will cause an accident and it will be big news. But while we’ve been talking several people have died from human drivers.”

How do you feel about autonomous cars? And are you more likely to trust one built by a tech company or a car company?

Note: I was Honda’s guest the the SAE 2015 World Congress; Honda provided my travel and accommodations, but thoughts and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Judy Antell, who is TravelingMom.com's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell