Are We Ready for Driverless Cars?
Are We Ready for Driverless Cars?
Technological advancements in the motor industry have given rise to the possibility of being driven in a car with no driver. Currently, many prototypes of driverless cars are already proving to be successful in the first testing phases. Vehicles already consist of many automated systems such as the vehicle tracking system, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability control, traction control system and the dynamic steering response. All these systems have been developed as a means to make life easier while reducing mistakes that may end up costing lives and property. However, driverless cars will be a revolutionary technological advancement designed to reduce human errors and increase convenience in travelling. The need for improvement of road safety has caused many automobile organizations, led by Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Google, to embrace this driverless technology. Since driverless cars will be completely dependent on artificial intelligence, it may be vulnerable to technical malfunctions. However, since technology is always improving several of these issues will be addressed on the way. Statistically, driverless cars will be able to maintain more accuracy than the average human driver will. As such, introduction to these cars will transform urban policies and the automobile industries significantly.
Opponents of introduction of driverless cars argue that computers, which as we have come to experience, have a tendency to crash, will be controlling the cars. Computers have every so often been a liability especially when the system is overwhelmed with activities. Air traffic control systems that are operated by similar systems have occasionally suffered failures. Fortunately, the skies have plenty of room to offset these mistakes (Department for transport 17). However, there may be limited room for such errors on the busy roads, which are used by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. For instance, a driverless car operating in a high-speed highway can experience significant damages and loss of lives in the event of a system breakdown.
Opponents of this theory also question the logical reasoning behind the computer as a system operating in the real world. Is the computer able to make logical reasoning the way a humans. Are computers capable of making a value judgement? On the other hand, humans are able to watch from a distance and evaluate the behaviour of pedestrians on the road. As such, they are able to make decisions based on the likely outcomes. For instance, a human being will be much more careful when driving around areas such as school yards, where they know children may run into traffic. Critics of driverless cars have questioned the capability of automated systems making such prediction.
There will be major changes in the legal system, urban planning and car ownership in the event that driverless cars are engineered to operate on the roads. This will be not only an exorbitant process for the taxpayers but also a process that will cause much ambiguousness to citizens (kmpg.com 33). For instance, will underage children be allowed to operate these cars, will this change how children are supervised especially when travelling? In addition to this, critics are sceptical about whether there will be an all-inclusive policy on the processes concerning issues such as car ownership and accidents. For instance, in the event of an accident, who will be liable?
Despite these challenges likely to be experienced in the future, proponents of driverless cars have argued that allowing driverless cars in to public roads will be of benefit to the urban world. Significant economic losses are experienced in the urban world because of spending time in traffic. The owner of the car will be able to allow the car to drive him or her to their destinations while they are allowed this time to carry out other activities such as reading or surfing the internet. Thus, much time will be saved when travelling from one destination to another.
Automated systems are much less likely to make mistakes that humans make when driving cars. A significant percentage of road accidents are caused by intoxication, distraction, and other human errors, which will be completely erased with the introduction of completely automated motor vehicles. These vehicles consist of a range of motor sensors all around the car to be able to detect people, cars and other objects. Cameras and lidars will enable the car to attain full vision in all directions. This allows the car to have a better sense of situational awareness than a normal human driver would. Thus, the cars will be able to avoid collisions, which are the major causes of car accidents.
Automated vehicles will increase access to the disadvantaged section of the society through allowing disabled people to be able to travel at their own convenience (Suarez 37). They will be able to go to hospitals and other destinations without the supervision of others. Others who are unable to acquire driving licences, or are considered unfit to drive such as the elderly will be at liberty to travel as well. Such individuals may also be able to own driverless cars in case ownership policies are changed. This will go a long way in improving their quality of life as independents individuals.
Software installed in driverless vehicles will include automated systems that will enhance the communication network. These vehicles will be able to communicate with one another as well as through the road network system to establish the safest, fastest or shortest route to destinations. This will also decrease road congestions, and consequently easing navigation. This will also work towards reducing fuel consumption thus enabling car owners to save money.
The evolution of technology has come with many improvements and sacrifices alike. Many were opposed to road network development during the 19th century, viewing it as a dangerous transportation system. Today, roads have become an indispensable form of transport all over the world. Likewise, fully automated cars have certainly been met with much scepticism as to their performance and safety. With the evolving society, change for the better is seen as a necessary step to be taken towards social and economic development. In my opinion, driverless cars are a significant part of this long awaited development geared towards safety and efficiency in the transport system.
Increasing capacity of roads will be a key step in overcoming the major challenges of road congestion that most urban cities experience (Villasenor 8). Critiques have posed many reasonable and likely challenges that automated systems are experiencing today, such as malfunctions and crashing. However, automated developers will be able to note these challenges and work towards mitigating or checking these undesirable effects. Extensive tests through simulations will be carried out to ensure that these cars are operational even in the most challenging road navigation situations such as heavy traffic, emergencies, or uneven terrain. As seen, automated cars have already been tested on the roads and proven to work efficiently. Increasing accuracy has the potential to save thousands of lives, which would have otherwise been lost due to reckless road accidents. Worldwide more than one million lives are lost through road accidents. Partial vehicle automation has shown to reduce these numbers significantly.
Driverless cars have been considered the future of automated mobility. People who cannot drive will be able to navigate safely from one place to another. Human errors, which are considered a major contributor to motor accidents, will be significantly reduced when replaced with artificial intelligence. Motorists will be able to have much more time on their hands to carry out other important activities such as reading, completing their reports, talking on the phone, and chatting with other travellers without the distractions of manoeuvring of driving and parking. Driverless cars may come with several challenges such as failed systems, which may cause risks to travellers, pedestrians and property. However, these challenges can easily be checked through improvement of systems. Overall, the benefits that could be experienced with use of automated systems far outweigh the potential risks. Thus, it is important to embrace the changing world for the sake of individual, social, and economic betterment.
Department of Transport. The Pathway to Driverless cars: Summary Report and Action Plan. DfT Publications. 2015. Print.
Kpmg.com Self Driving Cars: The Next Evolution. Centre for Automotive Research. 2012. Print.
Suarez, Didier. Driverless Cars – Problems, Benefits, Effects. Tallinna University of Technology. 2015. Print.
Villasenor, John. Products Liability and Driverless Cars: Issues and Guiding Principles for Legislation. 2014. Print.
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