Car-sharing company Zipcar founder Robin Chase thinks that we should be worried about the future of driverless cars, she said at Internet Week New York.
While Chase acknowledges that autonomous cars could cut down on accidents, she still believes they can lead to more pollution and traffic congestion, Wired reports.
"The future of autonomous cars that are personally owned is a nightmare,” Chase said on stage. “I’m going to venture, 50 percent of the cars in the street will have no one in them.”
Current California law states that while the driverless car is moving, a licensed driver must be in the seat and able to take over the car if needed. With Google's self-driving cars, there's always a human behind the wheel.
But as driverless cars become more mainstream, Chase worries that people will send their self-driving cars without them to pick up dry cleaning or do other errands for them. Her theory is that we would see even more cars on the road and therefore more traffic congestion because of that. Regarding buzzy startups like Uber and Lyft, Chase envisions driverless cars wiping out those services.
One solution may be to always ensure that autonomous cars are never owned by individuals, she says. Instead, Chase argues that they should be owned by cities, or by rental and car-sharing companies.
If that's the case, Chase said, this technology is "actually kind of thrilling."
On the software side of the business, Chase believes that Google will dominate it, due somewhat in part to its acquisition of traffic and mapping startup Waze.
Meanwhile, Google recently improved its software so that the cars can identify people, buses, crossing guards, and cyclists on city streets. Back in April, Google announced that it had already driven thousands of miles on the streets of Mountain View, California.
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