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  • Thomas Thurston

Hey, big data just cut me off!

Updated: Apr 3

Imagine yourself driving down the road when suddenly your car decides to slow down and change lanes… without asking you first. The idea of self-driving cars is both exciting and kind of weird. For some of us, cars embody freedom and self determination. This romantic notion seems somehow… violated… by the idea of a self-driving car. It’s going to be a curious ride.


If you think that's odd, now imagine you're driving down the road and somebody else's car makes you slow down and change lanes. What the hey?


optimus prime

I bring this up because Jennifer recently forwarded me this article about self-driving cars, data science and how some folks (like Intel) are accelerating the topic a bit.


Automating some vehicle functions can feel pretty natural – like self-dimming rear view mirrors, windshield wipers that turn on when they detect moisture and sensor alerts when you’re about to back into a mailbox. Other innovations take a little more warming up to, like self-parking cars (offered by folks like Mercedes and Land Rover). Taking a step further, imagine if cars remotely shared data (ex. location, speed) so drivers could know more about driving conditions all around them.


Some friends believe the future belongs to 100% self-driving vehicles and they’re convinced it’s a better future indeed. This could allow transportation to be more efficient, more environmentally sustainable, safer and even faster. Removing human error from the road and reducing accidents could possibly even save more lives in the US than curing breast cancer.


I think the possibilities are fascinating to imagine. A world of self-driving, connected vehicles also enables vast new areas for data science as we digitize how we move, where and why. This could open a lot of great doors (ex. fewer traffic accidents, no more traffic tickets) and also some sketchy ones (ex. someone hacks my car and cuts me off so they can zoom ahead). Whatever the future of automated transit may be, the topic doesn’t seem to be running out of gas.

To read the full article, click here.

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