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Letters: Robo-road rules

October 18, 2013
  • Nissan recently demonstrated a version of its all-electric Leaf that adds self-driving capabilities.
Nissan recently demonstrated a version of its all-electric Leaf that adds… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Re “Self-driving cars are inching closer to the open road,” Oct. 13

Two hypothetical situations: I am driving — or rather, my car is driving — along a residential but heavily traveled street. Suddenly, a child's ball rolls into the street. The car's radar (or whatever system) sees the ball and slams on the brakes. The car is rear-ended by the car behind, driven by a human, who has not seen the ball and has no idea why my car is stopping short.

Or, I am driving along a residential but heavily traveled street. Suddenly, a child's ball rolls into the street. I can see that the child's mother has her by the hand so she can't run after the ball. My car straddles the ball as I slow a little, allowing the driver behind to notice that my car is slowing — and there's no accident.

Let me know when self-driving cars can make these sorts of decisions. As for me, I remind myself to keep a close watch on traffic when I use cruise control on the highway. My foot may relax, but my brain must not.

Michele Hart-Rico
Los Angeles

Even the current generation of robotic cars drive better than some humans I've (almost) run into lately.

Robots don't drive drunk or stoned; they don't text or fall asleep at the wheel — or even get distracted by phoning their friends.

Scott McKenzie

La Cañada-Flintridge

Here's a question:

Assume self-driving cars are on the road. A police officer sees a car break the law, so he turns on his blinking red lights. But the car has no driver. Does its microchip recognize the police car and stop, as a driver would? And to whom does he give the citation?

Patrick James
Silver Lake

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