Self-driving cars are fast becoming reality. Tesla’s Autopilot, though not actually 100% autonomous, is the closest thing we have yet. Indeed, assuming the lawyers keep up with technology, we can expect fully self-driving cars within three to five years, tops, thanks to pioneering efforts by Tesla, Apple, Mercedes, and Google.
Thing is though, not everyone is convinced this is a good thing. Review, after review, after review of Tesla’s new Autopilot functionality has been met with fascination laced with trepidation and anxiety. Which is weird, because we humans seem perfectly fine trusting our fellow distracted drivers; and we have no problems at all with Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s flying at 39,000 feet, at 85% the speed of sound, entirely by computer, even landing fully autonomously.
The concerns about self-driving cars, meanwhile, all resonate around a common theme: how can we trust a computer to drive us safely?
Well, we can. We should. And soon, we will have to. The fact is, it is precisely thanks to automated flight systems that flying has become so safe (your chances of dying in an airplane are now one in 11 million.
Moreover, when we look at the five most common causes of airplane crashes between 2005 through 2014, aviation accidents caused by flight computer error don’t even make the list.
So here are the top five most common causes of airplane crashes, and why it indisputably reinforces the need to mandate autonomous vehicles sooner rather than later: