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CNN 10

Special Edition Focuses on the Prospect of Driverless Cars and How Do Their Developers and Supporters See a Future Without Human Drivers

Aired November 19, 2020 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Welcome to a Special Edition of CNN 10. I`m Carl Azuz and today`s show puts one high profile subject in the driver`s

seat, driverless cars. This means autonomous vehicles, cars that do all of the work of handling themselves without any input from people.

Manufacturers worldwide are investing in the technology to make this happen but right now full automation doesn`t exist on American roads, at least not


The car maker Tesla offers both an autopilot and a full self-driving capability package but it says neither of them actually makes the vehicle

fully self-operating. They`re intended to be used with a completely attentive driver. This year the company has investigated a couple

incidents in which crashes occurred when the autopilot feature was reportedly enabled. So there are concerns about the safety of this

technology and that includes the fact that it`s only possible with computers. What if they lock up or need a reboot like your Smartphone?

What if they`re hacked? Also, privacy advocates have sounded the alarm about your every movement and speed and destination being tracked and

logged. Who gets access to that information? For today`s show though, we`re giving you a glimpse of a driverless ideal. What could the future

look like for a city filled with autonomous vehicles assuming everything goes as manufacturers and supporters of the technology hope it will.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American`s love their cars. Getting my first car was one of the happiest days of my life and I`ve loved driving ever since,

especially fast cars. Uh, yes, that`s not actually my car but hey, look, this is my story and I can dream if I want to. But what if I`m part of the

last generation to get excited about driving a car? I spent the last year traveling the country talking to entrepreneurs, engineers and test drivers

who are building the cars of tomorrow and when they imagine the future, driving a car isn`t part of it.

They envision roads full of cars driven by machines, where traffic jams are no more, where the death rate by car accidents drops to zero. The end of

car ownership as we know it even to the point of human driving one day becoming illegal. I asked them all the same thing. What will the future

look like and what will it take to get there? What I found was really exciting but also a bit shocking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, (inaudible), auto this parking lot. I`m going to - - engaging self-driving mode. Because technically we don`t need a driver

in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you and I are basically, in a way, just passengers now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re test driving a car powered by autonomous vehicles start up Drive AI on the streets of northern California. It`s one of

several companies working to utterly transform how we live. This test car could be the prototype with an automobile that not only takes you out of

the driver`s seat but creates a future where you might not need to own a car at all at least people building them think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ownership will probably be abandoned. We mostly have cars that we can summon on our phone. The car will in (ph) to us and - -

and - - and pick us up and we get inside of our office or house and it drives us straight to the restaurant and there`s no time wasted with


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a world of self-driving cars, the utopia of the future, the only vehicles operating the city are driverless, electric,

emission less vehicles and they can position themselves in a state where, you know, you or I hailing one from our Smartphone has one there within a


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will look back and say, wow, people owned cars to get from this point to that point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eliminating car ownership would drastically change the way we shape our cities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing I`m most excited about is the ability on the street to reallocate space away from the storage of vehicles. Right now,

cars sit idle 94.8 percent of the time. I mean, that`s staggering and I think we can literally close 30-40 percent of our streets to automobiles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t need cars on - - on neighborhood streets anymore. You just need them on the perimeter of your neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of those parking facilities today get turned into residential space or parks or offices or restaurants and we can, kind of,

give back the city to the people who live in it. Take it away from the automobiles, right? I think that they - - the quality of life and the

opportunity to, kind of, reuse that space is - - is going to be pretty magical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine it, never driving again. The nation of muscle cars, NASCAR and the open road, you`re going to tell Americans they can`t

drive. Well, eventually maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That may be a line (inaudible) humans cannot drive on public roads and if a human does want to drive, they can go to a private

car ranch that it can basically drive (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I know what you`re thinking. A car ranch? But it`s actually not that crazy. Remember when we transitioned from

horses to automobiles, we didn`t shoot all the horses. Well guess what, these car ranches actually already exist. Think of car companies that

build high end sports cars that are meant to be driven by humans not robots. They`re already building driving courses around the country and

yes, they`re as fun as they sound.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We opened in May 2015. You`ll come in. You`ll meet your - - your register, meet your driving coach and then driving coach will

then take you onto the track. We believe this - - this destination that we`ve created has got a long-term future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Porsche knows driverless technology`s around the corner but they still want people to love driving even if they do less of it on

public roads. All right, let`s get back to the real world. The rise of car sharing services has already made people accustomed to the idea of not

owning a car. Today, human drivers pick us up when we use Uber or Lyft but that`s not going to last.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Autonomous ride sharing is absolutely coming. It is right around the corner and you`ll see it in pockets at first and slowly

and surely, you`ll start to see these vehicles all over the place. There is an opportunity on a long enough timeline where we may have a fleet that

is fully autonomous. As you start to see people adopt to transportation as a service, the hope here is that cars will - - car ownership will slowly


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ripple effect of automation on our cities will be felt beyond just cars. Drones will roam the skies making deliveries and

robots like this one already in Washington, D.C. may bring food orders to your door very soon. In the nation`s capital Starship Technologies

delivers food by an automated robot. There it is. Hello robot. I`d like a sandwich. Man. All right. So I just had a robot deliver me a sandwich

on the streets of Washington, D.C. It`s just in the trial phase right now but in the future, it could be a lot more common. Robots, drones, deliver

your hoagie, right to your house. All you`ve got to do is push a button on an app and you`re got yourself a sandwich. All of these changes won`t come

easy. Perhaps the biggest fear, what will happen when all these robots get better at our jobs than we are? Will they replace us?


AZUZ: OK. You heard phrases like eliminating car ownership and right around the corner but you also heard words like prototype and test car. To

be clear, experts say a cityscape with fully self-driving cars is likely to be decades away and whether this would work in the country is another

question entirely. For the present, even with all the technology available to us drivers are still "autonomously" in control. And even if driverless

cars seem the "technological" next step the intelligence of smart cars is still "artificial". So smart design will have to take the driver`s seat if

people are to take a "back seat" role on the road ahead. I`m Carl Azuz and I "brake" for CNN.