IS LAGOS READY FOR SELF-DRIVEN CARS?
Different personal engagements have caused me to embark on journeys; some as short as 2 hours and others whopping some 28 useful hours of one’s life. You know, road trips can be fun! Forget the tush voices and faces of air-hostesses and focus on the beauty of seeing a funny conductor who makes you crack your ribs all through your trip. They can be damn hostile sometimes anyway: railing curses far back to the generation of one’s great-grandparents, weird! The beautiful sceneries of nature, the solemn joy of discovering new places and appreciating new cultures still make road trips rock. Trust me!
However, over the years different approaches are being tested to ensure that road travels are as safe as air flights. The abuse of hard drugs by drivers and the inability to ascertain fully their mental health have placed some iota of fear on the safety of passengers who are being conveyed by such drivers. One of the most recent solutions proposed has employed the use of artificial intelligence, science and automobile engineering to bring up: self-driven cars. Yea, you heard right: cars that are driven without any assistance from humans. Amazing right? You could echo that again!
Google has been working on this project for a while now and in December 2016, their self-driven car project was renamed Waymo. The thrust was very simple: make it safe and easy for people and things to move around. That’s all!! Why do we need human assistance when robots and other products of artificial intelligence have almost taken over the world? A typical self-driven car lacks a steering wheel, gas or brake pedal- completely automated, I mean 100%. Self-driven cars have been tested in some parts of the world and only a few crashes have been encountered so far; which Google linked to the faults of human drivers also making use of the roads.
I really wonder what the crash statistics will look like in a deeply-dense city like Lagos. Can we say we are ready for self-driven cars? The intense traffic on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, the long delays on the Ojota-Berger Road and the rowdy pedestrian movements at Agege might definitely make self-driven cars a mirage in Lagos; at least for the next 3–5years. It would interest you to know that on February 14, 2016, in an attempt to avoid sandbags; a self-driven car struck a bus leading to a crash. That’s sandbags! Now picture the Lagos situation: the deep potholes, the impatient drivers, the terrible portions of the road: oh, the bumps: I almost forgot that. It appears the transit to self-driven cars in a mega city like Lagos is not happening any time soon.
The more developed cities have been making efforts to adjust their laws to suit the use of self-driven cars, motorways are being made more friendly and anti-hacking technology of this new approach is being made stronger and here in Lagos: we are debating if conductors should wear uniforms or not, if Danfo buses should be retained or not and if our dear agberos should be replaced or not.
The journey looks far, I guess.
Eko o ni baje o!
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