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Michael Schwarz, director of the popular PBS / NOVA documentary, “Look Who’s Driving,” provides some interesting information on artificial intelligence (AI) and the current state of autonomous vehicles.

How do self-driving cars (autonomous vehicles) work and is society ready to trust them? In this interesting podcast, director Michael Schwarz discusses the expanding technology that is pushing its way into the transportation industry.

Schwarz talks about his interests, and the lead up to making his current documentary, “Look Who’s Driving.” He recounts how he learned about some of the early companies that were seeking to develop autonomous vehicles, and how General Motors was very interested in grabbing the new technology quickly. After many years of waiting and anticipating what they might be like, autonomous vehicles are finally sharing the roads with us at least in testing mode, but experts caution that there are massive challenges to overcome still, and some caution that the tech is just not there yet to provide safety for everyone.

Schwarz discusses the safety issues in detail. As he states, there are nearly 40,000 deaths per year on the roads in America, and the idea that developers of autonomous vehicles boast is that their self-driving cars don’t drive drunk, drowsy, or distracted, making them, potentially, a safer alternative. Schwarz goes on to discuss the challenges ahead for autonomous vehicles, talking about the high bar that the technology must meet because there are millions and millions of miles driven by human drivers before even one fatality occurs. Schwarz talks about some of the leading companies that are developing these self-driving cars, and how they are focused on pushing the technology to handle the entire driving experience. As he states, although passengers can ‘take over’ in a potential accident situation, it is perhaps unrealistic to expect a relaxed passenger to suddenly take action effectively. Thus, some say that the technology must be developed until it is good enough to no longer need any human input, or intervention, while driving.

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