What to Know About Self-Driving Cars

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What to Know About Self-Driving Cars

self driving cars

Once the preserve of science fiction, self-driving cars are now a part of our reality. Self-driving cars, otherwise known as autonomous, driverless, and robotic cars have the ability to sense the environment around them and to drive with no or very little human intervention. They achieve this by using sensors, cameras, and advanced driver assistance systems. Eventually, autonomous vehicles will connect with each other through a computer network. Though not fully approved or ready yet for public use, safety reports are favorable and there is widespread interest.

What to Know About Self-Driving Cars

Although today’s self-driving cars have a steering wheel and pedals, autonomous car projects are under development without them. At this stage, the cars request human intervention when they don’t know what to do.

Advantages of Autonomous Driving Technology

Fewer Crashes

It is thought that there will be fewer motor vehicle collisions as a result of self-driving cars. Human error accounts for approximately 90 percent of motor vehicle crashes. Most crashes occur because of a split-second lapse of concentration, poor decision-making, or distractions inside and outside the car. Conceptually, self-driving cars will be able to communicate with each other and make decisions, thereby reducing the number of crashes.

Mobility

Many people are physically unable to drive a car. Self-driving cars will be life-changing for people with disabilities. The elderly, being either too frail or too nervous to drive, will regain their mobility and their independence. People who are legally prohibited from driving will also benefit from driverless vehicles.

Traffic Flow

Traffic jams and congestion is made worse by bad driving and impatience, such as not letting folks zipper merge on the highway, or take turns when the traffic lights are out. Cars with full self-driving capabilities will communicate with each other and proceed in a logical fashion.

Freedom

Because you will no longer have to actually drive, riders will be able to do other things during the commute to and from work or while going to the grocery store.

Disadvantages of Fully Autonomous Vehicles

Wholesale Adoption Required

In order to reduce wrecks, all cars would have to be self-driving. The concept is almost too surreal to imagine, especially for the near future. There is also the potential problem that Americans would no longer know how to drive. Americans would become dependent on their cars rather than using them to enhance their independence. In turn, that could cause problems when visiting other countries that don’t have self-driving cars.

Job Losses

Experts estimate that the transportation industry would lose 300,000 jobs each year in the USA alone. Although autonomous vehicles would help create other jobs, it is not reassuring for the economy in the short term.

Security Threats

Self-driving cars will rely on a network of computers to communicate and avoid each other. Hackers pose the threat of cyber hostage-taking. In turn, this could affect individual cars or entire communities. Then, there is also the question of privacy. Who will have access to the personal data that the computers collect and what will they do with it?

The Morality Dilemma

At the core of the concept of self-driving vehicles is artificial intelligence. This means that we will be handing over control and decision-making to a computer. It is easy to think that it’s no big deal. However, it is important to see self-driving cars in the context of a world where artificial intelligence will be invading many other areas of our lives in the not too distant future. If we easily accept AI in one aspect of our lives, will it make it easier for us to unthinkingly hand over other aspects without questioning, all for the benefit of convenience? Furthermore, where does liability rest when crashes do occur?

Additional Reading: Self-Driving Cars: Everything You Need to Know

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