Houston Matters

Are Driverless Cars in Houston’s Future?

The folks at Google have been busy these days working on ways to re-think the modern car. A new alliance with several automakers is intended to help build out android operating systems in cars to improve navigation and other built-in electronic functions. But that’s small potatoes – near future thinking. Google’s also been lobbying in […]

The folks at Google have been busy these days working on ways to re-think the modern car. A new alliance with several automakers is intended to help build out android operating systems in cars to improve navigation and other built-in electronic functions. But that's small potatoes – near future thinking. Google's also been lobbying in recent years for states to pass robotic car laws. Nevada's passed one, Florida allows testing of autonomous cars on its roads, so does California. And Michigan says it's okay for Google to test its experimental driverless cars there, so long as there's a human being in the driver's seat, ready to take over, if necessary.

While we're a long way off from the day all of us could head out on Houston roads in fully autonomous cars, and just let them take us where we want to go, what was once the stuff of science fiction is beginning to be soberly considered. And so, it makes sense for us to consider the implications of what could – someday (decades from now, perhaps) be a future Houston of highways and byways filled with driverless cars.

We discuss the legal, ethical, and practical implications with David Crossley, President of Houston Tomorrow...Peter Bishop, Professor of Future Studies in Commerce in the Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences at the University of Houston's College of Technology...and Professor Timothy Morton, Director of English Undergraduate Studies at Rice University. He's also the author of Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World.

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