General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) makes constant announcements about its self-driving cars, just like the rest of its competition in that field. The most recent is that its driverless cars will eliminate “human driving error,” which its management says causes 94% of crashes. In turn, that reduces injuries and fatalities.
That is, if the technology works well and the government approves it.
GM recently released its “2018 Self-Driving Safety Report,” a 33-page collection of statistics, graphs and charts. Among the most prominent comments in the report:
General Motors’ mission is to bring our vision of a world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion to life. Safely developing and deploying electric self-driving vehicles at scale will dramatically change our world.
In most ways, it is similar to promises from many car manufacturers and technology companies that want to change the future of how people get from one place to another.
At the core of the description of all self-driving technology is the vehicle’s “brain.” It supposedly eliminates all the decisions made by the mistake-prone human brain. As a matter of fact, it makes the use of that brain irrelevant, as with artificial intelligence products and services that have started to be the leading edge of the future. Self-driving technology is a first cousin of Amazon’s Alexa-based products, which recognize the human voice and turn commands into actions. Eventually, humans simply will walk from one task to another without the need to do much more than watch technology’s ability to master things that were once critical to daily life.
Another GM announcement showed that its vision is fairly far off, which means humans will get to drive their cars awhile longer. Management said:
General Motors filed a Safety Petition with the Department of Transportation for its fourth-generation self-driving Cruise AV, the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.
The government has become a wedge, albeit a temporary one, between GM and its future. Technology has not solved that problem.