Science fiction has always kind of envisioned the day when there would be self-driving cars, or self-driving planes, hopefully. In those imaginings, they would whisk us away where we wanted to go while we watched TV or did other such things.
But it always seemed like it was science fiction, like it was something far away, no idea when you would see it. Then it seemed like just a few years ago, it changed almost instantly. And you could see videos of cars self-driving, navigating situations that were complex.
All of a sudden, it seemed like it was real. You couldn’t go down to the corner store and buy a self-driving car, but all of a sudden, it seemed like someday not too far in the future, you would be able to. Why did this happen? How did it happen so quickly? Well, there had been breakthroughs in sensor technology. There had been advances in batteries, and even advances in the material sciences.
But the real reason that the world of self-driving cars is going to happen is because of artificial intelligence. The world, our streets, and how we interact with them is a messy, analog thing. And we still have to build a digital system that can take billions of miles of driving data, and, here’s the tricky part, flawlessly understand and navigate within it. It is a hard problem, but one we will certainly crack.