Autonomous cars: you win some, you lose some
While the idea of autonomous cars might seem a bit uncomfortable to some, we can’t deny that the concept is attractive in many ways.
Who wouldn’t want to read or text while driving, or better yet, get on the laptop and prepare that last minute report that the boss was asking for and insisting on finishing it immediately.
That’s what driverless cars promise us, not to mention the relief that they can steer you to your destination without getting lost or needing to ask for directions.
But the rise of autonomous cars may be stealing one thing that has driven us to get behind the wheel: the passion for driving!
Before we switch gears to that, what does the future of driverless look like?
Over the next five years, self-driving vehicles will become invasive, according to CNBC.
“Tesla passed Ford and General Motors in market value, and now Daimler and Bosch are partnering for autonomous vehicle development and Ford announcing it’s on track for a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021,” it said in a statement published recently.
Dubai has recently launched a number of schemes to move forward in this direction, as part of its Smart City initiative.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that it signed in February 2017 an agreement with Tesla Inc., a world-leading manufacturer of autonomous electric vehicles, to buy 200 hybrid electric vehicles fitted with several components of autonomous driving technologies.
Dubai-based car-booking service Careem is one of the companies that are testing electric and driverless pod vehicles, as part of a future driverless ‘hail a cab’ service, the company announced last April.
It is collaborating with California-based NEXT Future Transportation, whose customers include the RTA.
Autonomous car are coming, but what’s behind this rush towards driverless?
When a computer takes over the driving responsibilities, drivers can use that time to do other things, like catch up on reading or chat with their buddies, all without having to worry too much about road safety.
Also, driverless cars may be a good solution to traffic accidents, reducing the number of fatalities as a result of human error.
According to Futurism.com, studies show that upward of 95 per cent of all traffic fatalities are the result of some form of human error.
“Totally eliminating the possibility for these errors could significantly boost road safety,” it said.
According to the Auto Insurance Center, a platform for automotive news, higher speed limits over time might be considered as an option, if more people are using self-driving cars.
“Since the computers calculate operation of the vehicle safely, driving time could be reduced by faster speeds allowed on the road,” it said.
Disabled individuals can also take advantage of this new technology.
“Those who have to rely on public transportation or assistance from others to get around, could reap the benefits of self-driving cars with new freedom and enhanced mobility,” as suggested by the New York Times.
Pay attention to what happens when we go driverless.
ReadWrite, a leading media platform dedicated to IoT and Connected World, quotes Audi’s Formula E Race Driver Lucas Di Grassi warning fans in 2016 of impending doom to motorsport, if autonomous cars become commonplace.
“The threat we face in motorsport is autonomous vehicles,” said Di Grassi.
“In the future, people in general will lack the experience of normal driving on the road. So if you don’t drive, you won’t get the passion and feeling for motorsport. Because less people will drive I believe it will become a niche sport and not a mass sport—as I believe it was in the 1990s and 2000s,” he said.
According to ReadWrite, Di Grassi also warned that none of the drivers wanted to become secondary to the technology.
He attacked Le Mans and manufacturers for regulating drivers while promoting autonomous technology inside cars.
Moreover, the technology also poses some security challenges.
Technical University of Denmark says that there will be a series of challenges related to the competences that are required to use these vehicles.
“As long as the vehicle is not 100 per cent self-propelled, drivers must still be familiar with the system and its limitations—just as they must be able to take over if the situation requires it,” it said.
The economy might feel some negative repercussions of having autonomous cars taking over.
The Auto Insurance Center reveals that self-driving cars will eliminate many jobs in the transportation sector, especially when it comes to freight transportation and taxi drivers.
“This could have a negative impact on the unemployment rate and the economy,” it said.