It’s time to remove drivers behind the wheel

People died over the last few days on South African roads. No one can blame the invisibility of traffic cops as they were all over the roads. No one can blame only taxi drivers for war zone like situation on South African roads. The Minister of Transport, Bonginkosi (Blade) Nzimande, refers to them as among the best roads in the world. The sad reality is that drivers on these roads may be the worst and the main reason for high rate of road accidents.

While people were dying on these roads a South African born technologist and entrepreneur ,Elon Musk, unveiled one the best computer chips to enable cars to drive themselves fully. The chip is called for now a  “full self-driving computer,” or FSD Computer. It is a high-performance, special-purpose chip built solely with autonomy and safety in mind. This is an important step for self driving cars which brings us closer to a future where cars will drive themselves.

On the other hand, the Chinese are also mapping the way forward for fully automated cars. China is in the process of building dedicated highways for self driving cars. A new 62-mile stretch of freeway will have two lanes dedicated to autonomous vehicles. According to recent media reports, the new highway is expected to be one of many that will run between Beijing and the Xiongan New Area in the Hebei province.
The road building project undertaken by the Chinese is one of the best efforts to jumpstart functional and useful automated vehicles.

These key technological developments should inspire South Africans to embrace a future where cars will drive themselves to deal with road carnage. It’s time to work towards removing the driver behind the steering wheel and allow the computer to take charge. The aviation industry for air transport has embraced automation for safety reasons, it’s about time for the road transport sector to embrace automation.

In view of high accidents rate on SA roads, it’s necessary to act swiftly with action in this regard. This is not a matter that needs long lasting debates but requires action in the form of investments.

Uber has dedicated billions for self driving cars to take care of  driver costs. South Africa has far more better reasons to invest in the self driving industry than Uber. Enabling self driving cars in South Africa is a matter of life or death.

Kay Ann