May 8th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Overheard on Autonomous cars reduce 'crashes'? Press any key to continue

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Nevada became the first to approve a license for "autonomous vehicles" on Monday, for search engine giant Google's self-driving cars project. A recent video spot features a 95% blind man in one of the cars, which Google says have driven 200,000 miles without incident. For the most part, our readers are very excited about this technology, but others are afraid that the cars could be susceptible to the same kinds of problems that desktop computer programs have.

Google gets license to operate driverless cars in Nevada

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it is given a ride out by an autonomous vehicle.

Polyglot64: "What I want to know is if, next to the GPS, if there is a button that says, 'I'm Feeling Lucky.' "

moviequotes: "I think that's what took them to the Las Vegas Strip. :-)"

Computer programs "crash," so what about computer-driven cars? And what if Microsoft and Apple put out their own systems? The following commenter also cited an old joke about computer operating systems and airlines.

metalcrow: "Who gets the ticket if the car is speeding? How will police pull the autonomous vehicle over? If Microsoft get into this and puts a Windows OS in the vehicles, who will be responsible for all the crashes? Will MS always say it is the hardware that is the problem? will we need to buy an upgrade every few years? will most of the cars features not work after an upgrade and until a Service Pack is released? Will the car be forced to use Internet Exploder? Lots of questions."

sameeker: "If Microsoft gets into the picture, you will have to stop the car at least once a day, shut everything off, and sit there for 10 minutes before going on your way."

sadtosay: "If Apple gets into the show, you violate the warranty by driving on a street."

Many people are in favor.

halfthestory: "Initially I was against this idea. But every day that goes by in which I have to deal with terrible drivers on the road, I like this idea more and more."

Some are afraid.

OnlySoMuch1: "The Rise of the Machines.......has begun......."

Are we humans unsafe at any speed?

Alex Klatsky: "One of the Google developers of these vehicles said something like 'When these autonomous cars are perfected the question will not be; will we let these cars drive us around. The question will be, will we still let humans drive cars?' These vehicles have already driven over 200,000 miles on roads without a single accident. That is already a lot safer than the average driver who has at least one fender bender per the life of their vehicle."

But some think police will not like a loss of revenue.

caliconor: "Alcoholics should invest in one of these."

sameeker: "That is why the government will never allow them. They do not really want anyone who has had a drink off of the road because they would lose too much revenue. Imagine the money that they would also lose on traffic violations. I bet Illinois will be the first state to outlaw them."

But maybe the real question is, how will they sell you cheap Viagra?

Rexpopulist: "Great. Get ready for 'Movement Spam.' Action-based advertisements where your car drives itself to restaurants that advertise with Google, and orders food you don't want. Or perhaps the theocrats in the crowd will appreciate the idea of a car that diverts to their churches automatically for a force-fed dose of fire and brimstone."

One of the most-debated aspects of autonomous vehicles is who would be responsible in a hypothetical accident.

3mightymutts: "And what happens if one of the sensors fail and the hits a pedestrian?"

drake666: "Seeing how many pedestrians are hit by cars without the driver getting punished, probably nothing."

nevermindme: "What happens if a normal human driver hits a pedestrian? Accidents happen. I would say the person behind the wheel is always responsible, even if their car is on 'auto pilot.' After all, you are responsible for your car even if you are using the cruise control or anti-lock brakes, right?"

ChrkeePrdeOK: "1) Place back-up sensors. 2) Car doesn't turn on without all sensors working properly... busting a sensor will be the same thing as busting a tire. All in all, this idea is awesome ... people with disabilities will become more independent. Woohoo!"

mkkelly: "An expensive wrongful death lawsuit would happen. So Google had better be pretty confident in this thing to put this on the roads."

Hourglass time.

CNNidegaz: "One moment, please ... one moment, please ..."

So, is there a potential for increased lawsuits?

Vincent Wolf: "Google is going to get sued for billions of dollars when one of these has an accident and someone is hurt. What a stupid move by Google. Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest move."


nevermindme: "You are right, we should just be happy with the technology we have. In fact, what were people thinking when they got rid of the horse and buggy! Those new car things were dangerous! Lets go back to the 1800s!"

Lone: "That is what insurance is for. You have that right? I'm sure that would cover a computer. The culture of suing is asinine to begin with, and at the root of so many unrelated expenses that sap our society, but that is besides the point. As Nevermind said, you've pretty much stated the same 'change is scary' argument that every radical technology has ever brought up. Arches and domes, buildings above one storey, water dikes, boats, airplanes, cars, and on. People were dying in droves long before any of that, if not more. If it doesn't work, so be it. But rejecting it outright when people are already being hurt or killed under manual control is silly."

drake666: "That's more a problem of stupid U.S. laws that don't give sensible limits to lawsuits."

Privacy concerns also came up.

fiskenmann: "Now these Google bastards will know where you go also."

truebob: "They already do, it's called Latitude."

If the car follows the rules, some may rebel.

Zhukov2: "Does the car obey the speed limit? If it does, nobody will buy it, unless there is a switch that allows the owner to go faster than the limit. But that would defeat the whole purpose of a driverless car, or at least a lot of the purpose, considering that speeding is a factor in most accidents."

Will people forget how to drive?

Jacob Pernula: "This will probably just make our driving habits worse because we won't have as much driving experience as growing up, increasing human error dramatically. If we go down this route, we will have to depend on computers to drive us everywhere."

Will we get hacked?

Vatossan: "I'm going to sleep while my car drives me home. Car gets hacked by hacker and takes you to a bad area. Compton LA. LOL!!!!!"

Or will we just sue?

cnnlicksit: "Aw man, I'm gonna drive around and hope I get hit by one. Then I'm gonna sue Google for millions."

Bannister: "They've already thought of that. It's got a video camera ..."

Would you drive an autonomous vehicle? Or rather, be driven by one? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Google • Nevada • Overheard on • Technology • Transportation • U.S.
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Self driving car ? What's so new about that ? We've had that for quite some time now. I mean these cars today must be driving themselves. The person sitting behind the wheel is to busy texting.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    All the naysayers talk about problems that could occur in the good old USA. There's nothing bonding Google or any manufacturer to the US...The whole world is their market!

    May 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hamsta

    @ bobcat you are correct they have been around for a while but i dont think i would trust it. they use gps navigation. gps is so full of errors that they make car insurance commercials about it.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Does that mean I could sit in the back seat and say, "Home, Jeeves?"

    May 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    A policeman pulled over a car, walked up to the driver's window, and asked the man if he knew why he was pulled over.

    "No," the man replied.

    "You failed to stop at the stop sign," the cop explained.

    "But I did slow down!" the guy argued.
    The cop shook his head. "You are required to stop. That's why they're called stop signs."
    The man started to get belligerent. "Stop, slow down - what's the difference?"

    The cop pulled out his baton. "I can show you. I'm going to start hitting you with my baton. You tell me if you want me to stop or slow down."

    May 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Ready for your headslapper of the day ? Well, it doesn't matter.

    A motorway walks into a pub one day. He goes up to the bar and orders himself a drink. He just sits down when in walks a strip of tarmac.

    The motorway sees the tarmac and starts to panic so he jumps over the bar and ducks down so it won't see him. The barman looks down at him and says, "What's the matter with you? Why are you hiding? You've got six lanes and two hard shoulders. Why are you frightened of a piece of tarmac?

    The motorway replies, "You don't know him like I do. He's a cyclepath."

    May 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I had a friend named Charlie, who used to tell me jokes every time I saw him...sadly, he passed away suddenly a few months ago.
      You have taken his place, and for that, I thank you.

      Still, that last joke earns a •Facepalm• x 2!

      May 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @bobcat(iah) this one earned you a quadruple groan but still a much needed end of the workday laugh. Theoretically this car sounds ideal and perfect for a cross country drive. I am going to have to stay with my plain vanilla car for a summer trip. I do like hitting the open road with an unplanned destination.

      May 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    roflmao, ty bobcat! I needed a good laugh.

    May 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I am a terrific driver–everybody else says so, too–and I love to drive. I'm sure that I do a better job of driving my car than a computer would.
    The guy coming down the street at me, however, is probably not such a hot driver, especially with his veins becoming preserved in martinis.
    As for satellite guidance, the first time I ever used that, Big Bird and the highway department of a suburb north of Chicago had very different ideas of the names of streets and positions of intersections. If Big Bird had been driving my car, I might not be writing this.

    May 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mickey1313

    It's a good idea, but there are a lot of questions that need answering

    May 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Carol

    Heaven help us when this system breaks down and the car starts doing 100 MPH and you can't stop it.....

    May 9, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. searbet

    As my co-worker just said, "blue screen of real death"...

    May 9, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. hugowesseling

    Most people need to realize how many computers are already in cars today. Even the simplest new car has at least one and the more expensive ones probably have 5 or 6. Does it ever happen that the cruise control decides to speed up? Does the brake assist fail, what about airbags? Car manufacturers already have large liabilities and push first and foremost for safety. The same will be true with the completely automatic cars. Before being used by large amounts of people, they will have to be found more safe than the non-automatic car. Luckily, automated systems have far superior reaction times and more objective responses to complicated situations.

    Joey might claim he will always be a better driver, but his human physiology makes that simply impossible in the long run.

    I can't wait until we can call cars true auto-mobiles.

    May 10, 2012 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. Maff

    Its obvious that the car will have manual override. That alone renders most of your complaints null and void. Its is possible that in 60-70yrs when all cars are computer operated that all of your fears may come to fruition. But by that time, advances in technology will have perfected these autocars. The only legitimate concern is that google is the brain behind this car. what kinda of company starts as a search engine and ends up making cars? whats next? Google smart homes?

    May 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    And to think I just bought a muscle car....

    May 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    You are all wondering who is liable if the car wrecks.... Why doesn't google just make you pay your insurance premium to them (at way low rates due to reduced wrecks) then it turns the auto insurance market on its head. 15 minutes to save 70% and have a robot chauffeur. yes please

    May 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
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