As if people snapchatting while driving wasn't already scary as fucking hell, self-driving cars are on the way, which makes way for people to do pretty much anything they want while in a moving vehicle. And according to an expert, the real thing we need to worried about with the rollout of automated cars is not cellphones—it's road head.
Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE), told VICE on Tuesday that recent discussions held internally by the Canadian government and online examples of distracted driving in automated cars are a genuine cause for concern—particularly when it comes to having sex.
"Studies have shown that when people trust a technology, [they] do a lot of other things that they shouldn't be doing," he told VICE. "People who already trust [this] technology already do things like text, play with pets, take photos. There are videos of people in Tesla cars where people read the paper, brush their teeth. It's very dangerous."
Kirk says the debate around the importance of hands-free devices is already prevalent, and he points toward "anecdotal stories of people having sex or masturbating" in moving vehicles as a reason to be worried about what the future of partially automated cars may hold.
And to some degree, the government is concerned as well. In documents obtained by the Canadian Press, advisory files given to Transport Minister Marc Garneau show that federal officials are concerned about drivers diverting attention away from the road, which, in the case of emergency or automation failure, could mean they aren't able to take over the car before a crash.
"Drivers tend to overestimate the performance of automation and will naturally turn their focus away from the road when they turn on their auto-pilot," the notes read.
Kirk says the real issue is the push for introduction of partially automated cars too early. Rather, Kirk says it would be wise to take the approach that companies like Google have taken—to only produce fully automated cars without the need for any human assistance.
"Autonomous vehicles will be safer, but there will be times when the computer will want to take over," he told VICE. "We need to take that more seriously.
"This will be an interim issue. A few more years down the stream, there will be automated cars where the human won't have to take over at all. At some point, it's likely Canadian Tire will sell drapes for your car, so people can't see into, uh, your business."
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