Clinton Edminster says he’s been dreaming of self-driving cars for a while, and now he’s working to get Savannah ready for the real thing.
“I had a dream several years ago I was riding in a self-driving car,” Edminster told a group Wednesday at Bull Street Labs, a collaborative office space owned by the Creative Coast for start-ups and creatives. “Since that dream, it has been an unreal adventure watching that dream come true, almost in real time, and very quickly.”
He was the guest speaker for the Savannah chapter of the nation’s largest technology trade association in the country, the Technology Association of Georgia. The event was part of TAG’s larger agenda to make Savannah a center for technology entrepreneurs.
“A lot of attention has been given to self-driving cars on a national level, but not on a local, granular level,” Edminster said. “All of this is happening right now at huge companies and in the U.S. Senate. How do we get these ideas into neighborhood conversations?”
Edminster, a board member of the Creative Coast, founded the Self-Driving Vehicle Coalition of Coastal Georgia in May to give this issue more attention on a local level.
“Our goal at the coalition is to help people accept that self-driving cars are going to happen. There’s nothing we can do to help or to inhibit this from happening. It’s like trying to stop a hurricane. However, we can prepare. And we can accept this is going to happen,” Edminster explained.
“My main thesis is that traffic in the future will become conscious of itself. This is not only about cars driving themselves. It’s about traffic being fairly self-aware and able to regulate itself,” he said.
Traffic, in a way, is a game. There’s a certain set of rules, there’s a goal of getting where one needs to go, and there are obstacles, he explained.
“Nvidia, a videogame maker, has emerged a major player for developing these computers for self-driving cars. The computers are the size of a license plate,” he said. “This will be a huge industry.”
One pervasive question centers on safety.
Car accidents have increased in recent years due to people driving while on phones, drunk driving, sleepiness, and America’s addiction to speeding, said Edminster.
When Tesla cars are in self-driving mode, accidents decreased by 40 percent. Self-driving cars would lower the fatality rate by 90 percent, Edminster said.
Pam Oglesby, who has been legally blind since birth, was at the TAG event because she says she’s always hoped there would be self-driving cars and was interested hearing more.
“I came here on the TellURide, but they brought me an hour ahead of time. I could have stayed at home another hour. I’ve been dreaming of self-driving cars every day,” she said.
However, Oglesby expressed concern because the self-driving cars could kill blind people because it’s difficult to hear the self-driving cars approaching.
Harper Hunt, a graduate student at SCAD, attended today’s event because he’s interested in ideas and innovation.
“…Once it innovates, it can cause other problems and become a catalyst for change in other industries. I’m interested in how the world responds to new technology,” Hunt explained.
Edminister explained his goal with the coalition is to open a discussion in Savannah about self-driving cars and to show the equitable deployment of the technology.
“By the time my generation has grandkids,” Edminster added, “I believe it will be illegal to drive your own car.”
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