So, there you are on a rainy night, and you have called a taxi. Strangely the driver does not talk. You arrived at the address, and you want to pay cash. Well, there is no driver at the wheel, and you run away screaming. Ohh! wait this is not a
horror movie but the near future of self-driving cars.
With each passing day, it is pretty clear to notice how much technology impacts our lives. We are surrounded by up and coming discoveries that are there to make our lives easier. With the advancements of AI, the gadgets we use are being shaped and moulded into a new era of technology.
AI has been on the rise for the last century and it is only getting more and more complex. One application of AI that is expected to bring about a revolution in our way of living is self-driving cars.
Self-driving might seem like fiction to many but they are well and truly here. The technology related to self-driving cars may not be too common but it is a work in progress. It can be expected that the global autonomous car market will reach up to $60 billion by the year 2030. (1)
With that said, it is crucial to understand that like every technology, self-driving or autonomous cars will have both pros and cons that will impact this exciting technology.
PROS OF SELF DRIVING CARS:
Engineer Samuel I. Schwartz, in his book “No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future”, wrote:
“Autonomous vehicles will likely rule the roadways at some point in the future, bringing profound changes to the way we live, work and play. If we want to be ready, the time to prepare
Experts are making some big claims about the future impacts of self-driving cars. Here is a list of the potential pros of autonomous vehicles once they are rolled out.
- NO TRAFFIC JAMS:
Self-driving cars will have a faster reaction as well as the ability to communicate with other self-driving cars which could help them to avoid traffic jams. Automatic braking functions will not only prevent nose-to-tail crashes but will also allow driverless cars to travel at consistent distances from one another. Speed limits will also be increased as the likelihood of vehicles crashing will be greatly reduced. In big cities, traffic jams will disappear when self-driving vehicles go out on a road.
For many people, it will save about 40 hours a year. That is how much the average metropolitan driver spends in traffic jams.
- NO MORE ACCIDENTS/ EASED ROAD CONGESTION:
Most accidents on the road are due to some form of human error whether it is a distraction, impaired driving or poor decision making. Self-driving cars are predicted to dramatically reduce traffic accidents and fatalities by removing human error from the driver equation. According to studies, 1.3 million people are killed worldwide every year in road accidents. By removing manual driving controls from humans, autonomous vehicles would eradicate all fatalities involving human error. The number of accidents will reduce by about 90%.
- BETTER ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION:
For people who cannot or choose not to drive, self-driving cars are a relief and safe mode of transportation. Many people have restricted mobility because of age or disabled ty. People
with disabilities, like the blind, are capable of self-reliance and highly automated vehicles will help them live the life they want.
Driving can be an entertaining exercise but r most car users, the time spent in the car is a requirement, not a fun activity. The average car user spent most of the theme in commuting to and from work and running chores and err ds. With self-driving cars, the time spent paying attention to th road will be freed up for a variety of other activities, such as sleeping, watching your favourite show or catching up on some work.
- ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY:
Self-driving cars will be much lighter than traditional ones. That means they will use less fuel and energy thus causing fewer toxic emissions. Using electric vehicles would decrease the number of emissions being released into the atmosphere. Excessive speed, braking and re-accelerating all release a large number of emissions from a car. Because autonomous cars will travel at consistent speeds and distances from one another, there will be a reduced need for braking and re-accelerating. Autonomous cars use significantly less gas and energy when driving, compared to a vehicle driven by a human.
Most gas is burned when driving at high speeds, braking, and re-accelerating excessively. Self-driving vehicles cut these factors out of their driving style, meaning less gas is burned, or battery power consumed, resulting in less air pollution.
CONS OF SELF DRIVING CARS:
Like every technology, self-driving cars might be in the run to make our life easier but they still have a few cons. These disadvantages need to be discussed to figure out the best solutions for prospective betterment in the said technology.
Sure enough, self-driving cars are the next big thing. Every car enthusiast’s heart skips a beat at the mention of this up and coming technology but this is not the same for developers. Making a self-driving car costs an astronomical amount of money. From making such a car to keeping it maintained, the costs are very high and not everyone can afford them.
When a new technology is introduced to the world, it is bound to be expensive. The rates start to drop only when it becomes accessible by everyone. As self-driving cars are still pretty new and not every company has been able to create their own, their prices are monumental for the common man to afford. But all hope is not lost because maybe shortly we will have cars that function on their own without them costing you your house.
- TECHNOLOGY IS NOT PERFECT:
Self-driving cars are in their initial phase. They are still developing and evolving so, one important thing to keep in mind is that the technology will not be perfect for the time being.
Many people avoid buying a phone which has a revolutionary design or something completely new and different from the rest. This happens because people tend to wait and watch the outcomes of this new technology. The same is the case with self-driving cars.
One of the biggest challenges with self-driving cars is the programming behind this technology. If a slight mishap occurs then there is no guarantee that your newly bought car won’t cause any issues.
- LOSS OF PRIVACY:
In a world where data is available to companies at their fingertips, the threat to security and privacy always falls under heavy criticism. Self-driving cars are no different.
Although, many companies will try to sell their products while keeping the promises of privacy as a priority. But this is not always possible.
A self-driving will likely be connected to a third party. This means that your location and whereabouts can be easily accessed by others.
- JOB LOSSES:
We have all seen sci-fi movies that depict what will happen with the advancements of AI and how much job loss will transpire.
There is no doubt that a lot of the stuff in such movies is exaggerated but it not entirely false either.
Many people depend on driving as a career to earn a means of living. With the advancements of self-driving cars, this career might be rendered useless and said people will have to look for opportunities elsewhere.
But this is one of those issues that might be too far in the future. It is nothing that will immediately affect a country or its people.
The future is uncertain but whether we like it or not, the rise of driverless cars is bound to transform transportation in one way or another. Driverless cars are undoubtedly a boon for the planet. Not only will they help curb emissions, reduce fatalities of humans and wildlife, and allow city planners to focus on green space more than roads, but they will also give every commuter more time in their days. If our society is committed to making driving safer and more efficient, then researchers and engineers need to make advances sooner rather than later. If the debate about whether self-driving cars are unsafe for the environment continues, then traffic will continue to worsen. Self-driving cars seem to be the wave for the future and if the negative environmental impact can be minimized, the benefits will far outweigh the risks. As Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors said:
“Self-driving cars are the natural extension of active safety and
something we should do.”
Written By: Manum Fatima & Nizana Khan
Edited By: Syed Sannan Ali