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On The Way To A Self-Driving Future With 'No One At The Wheel'

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The revolution will be driverless.

Autonomous cars have been under development for decades. The industry exploded in the 2000s and now, every car manufacturer in the world is working on autonomous driving technology. 

On Wednesday, Google's sister company Waymo officially launched its self-driving taxi service in the suburbs of Phoenix.

But there are still many kinks to work out. Eight months ago, one of Uber's self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. 

How are these driverless vehicles designed to execute visual processing tasks like pedestrian detection? Who will be held responsible when the inevitable accident happens again? 

This technology will also affect the job market, cause ethical dilemmas and further erode our privacy. Like any computer, autonomous vehicles will be vulnerable to hackers. And computers make mistakes. 

Autonomous cars offer benefits to people living with disabilities and could eliminate hundreds of thousands of parking spots, creating space for more parks, housing and bike lanes.

recent poll asked people if they were willing to be passengers in a so-called self-driving vehicle. Seventy one percent of respondents ages 14-18 said they would be willing to let the vehicle take the lead. Baby boomers over age 55 were far less inclined to give up control of the wheel. Millennials (18-34) and Gen X-ers (35 to 54) were in between, at a respective 61 and 53 percent.

How will autonomous vehicles be regulated? Will they ultimately make our roads safer or more dangerous? Are human drivers more dangerous than cars that pilot themselves?

Guest: Samuel Schwartz, author of “No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

This interview aired on Monday, December 12, 2018.

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