The future of travel is autonomous. The arrival of self-driving cars is not a matter of if, but when.
Google, Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Intel, Tesla, and many others are developing their own versions of the technology to one day revolutionize how people travel.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Drivers cannot fully trust their vehicles to deliver them safely to their destination yet. Despite the advancements in technology, self-driving cars at present are still fallible to errors that might lead to accidents.
Yet, people have stopped paying attention to the road when they have driver-assistance technology. One survey published in 2019 found that drivers who drive a semi-autonomous car are twice more likely to be distracted.
Carmakers insist that human drivers are still necessary to steer the vehicle in the right direction. They have to be able to take over control at any time because the system is not yet perfect.
In fact, Tesla, which now has Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features, has placed safeguards to ensure that there is a human being behind the steering wheel at all times.
Tesla vehicles have already been involved in accidents because people have been tricking the system into thinking that is a driver in the driver’s seat. In one recent incident, there was no one driving the vehicle that went off the road and collided with a tree before bursting into flames. Two men died.
Although Tesla is facing intense scrutiny for the accidents, the drivers are still at fault. They can be sued and would need to defend themselves in court if an accident happens while they are using the driver assistance program of their vehicles. Unless the vehicle’s faulty software has led to the incident, they will face legal repercussions. Better consult an experienced car accident attorney to discuss the situation in case you find yourself involved in a road accident.
Increased Reliance on Private Vehicles
The introduction of fully autonomous vehicles is much awaited because it promises safer roads. It will also enable those who have mobility issues the freedom of movement without the aid of another person. Moreover, it will provide comfort and convenience like no other.
People want to be able to use their smartphones, play video games, read a book, and take a nap while on a journey. They might be able to do so with a fully autonomous vehicle.
The promise of comfort and convenience will only increase the rate of car ownership. Instead of reducing the number of vehicles on the road by encouraging the use of public transport, more people will strive to get themselves a self-driving car.
It might lead to a future with increased congestion and air pollution. Research from the University of Michigan warns that the autonomous vehicle revolution will increase, not decrease, the consumption of gas. The capability to sleep, watch a movie, chat with friends and all sorts of activities will inspire occupants to travel more frequently and cross long distances.
The added miles mean increased energy use. Even if the vehicle is electric, if it relies on the grid to charge, it still burns non-renewable energy that emits greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
In addition, more cars on the road mean traffic jams. If right now you despise the congestion during peak hours, things may become worse in the future. The only difference is you would be more confident and might be able to catch up on your favorite television series, read books, and take a nap comfortably and safely while on the road.
Autonomous Cars May Never Become Fully Autonomous
The biggest companies in the world and the brightest minds in the technology industry are all hard at work to create a future where self-driving cars are on every road. However, with all the grand promises of the technology, many might not materialize.
In fact, the idea of fully autonomous cars may not happen for a really long time.
Despite the multitude of cameras and sensors as well as the quick processing skills of computers, nothing can beat the human mind. People in technology know from experience that automation is not sophisticated enough to never require the input of another person, especially when a decision needs to be made.
Google a few years ago patented a system that will enable the car to contact remote assistance where a human will be able to help get it out of certain situations. Digital technology is prone to glitches, and it likely will continue to be a problem for years to come.
No one knows how all the effort made toward self-driving cars will pan out in the future, but there seem to be potential problems that the technology will encounter. Identifying these problems early on in the development of the technology will allow engineers to address them and save lives one day.
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