Rogue French Truck Strengthens Driverless Vehicle Argument

Last night, at least 73 people died after a rogue truck ploughed through the streets of Nice. More than 100 other people have been injured. And all they were doing was celebrating Bastille Day.

Police managed to shoot the driver dead at the scene. The incident was described as a ‘major criminal attack’ by media. And it’s hard to disagree. What driver ploughs into a crowd and keeps going if not to kill and injure? The situation seems very much like an attack on the French people.

The event has taken place eight months after Islamic State militants killed 130 people. The coordinated attacks in eastern Paris are still a dark reminder of terrorist attacks on the West.

At the crime scene in Nice, soldiers, police and ambulance attended to those injured. Officials are now urging residents close to the city to stay indoors. Now, of course this situation would make anyone’s blood boil.

To think we can’t stop such killings just baffles the mind. Getting behind any vehicle is probably one of the most dangerous things you will ever do. However, with the intent to harm others, these vehicles become that much more deadly.

Making roads and footpaths safer

From this sickening display of terrorism, it’s easy to see how destructive vehicles can be. I am not saying that we should ban cars. Far from it. Even gun law bans seem ridiculous to me…but that’s another issue. But to make vehicles safer, inside and out, driverless vehicles might be the only way forward.

There would be no such thing as mounting the curb and mowing down innocent people. Driverless vehicles would simply not allow it. Countless lives could be saved by eliminating human judgement on the roads.

You might think that you have superb reactions, and that your senses are always on alert. Yet this is just your ego getting in the way of the next generation of vehicles. Driverless vehicles can react to situations on the road faster than any human. And multiple sensors can see everything on the road at once.

But of course, driverless cars aren’t 100% safe. Nothing ever is.

You might have heard of the tragic incident with Tesla Motors Inc. [NASDAQ:TSLA] and their autopilot. A Tesla car operating in autopilot mode collided with a truck, which killed the driver.

And while this was a dark day for driverless cars, the tech will ultimately save lives in the future. So instead of rushing the product to market, we need to slow down and get things right from day one.

Yet even once all the kinks are worked out, there could still be some risks involved. Think of driverless vehicles like computers. From time to time, hackers are able to infiltrate computer systems and take control. Well, the same is possible with driverless vehicles.

But this is why security for driverless cars will be such an important issue. Of course, not everyone on the street would be trying to hack into cars and take control. But some might. And we must plan for that contingency.

Earlier this month, Mobileye MV [NYSE:MBLY] announced they’d be teaming up with Intel Corp [NASDAQ:INTC] and Bayerische Motoren Werke [ETR:BMW] to bring driverless cars to roads by 2021. If you’re unfamiliar with Mobileye, they produce the computer chips which help vehicles see their surroundings. Think of their tech as the brain and eyes of the driverless car. The car companies already using Mobileye’s tech include Audi, BMW, Citroen, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault and Volvo.

But right now, the three companies above are working on bringing safety and efficiency to our roads. And, hopefully, attacks like the one in Nice will be a thing of the distant past.

Härje Ronngard,

Junior Analyst, Money Morning

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