Written by John Stuart
First, there were steam-engine vehicles. Next, they had experiments with electric-powered motors. Finally, there came the subsequent development of the gasoline car. The early revolutions of the automobile industry were a struggle.
If the next revolution is anything to go by, this struggle could go on for a very long time.
In recent times, the term ‘Driverless Car’ is a heard a lot more. Research and experiments are happening right now across the world. Every major car manufacturer is testing this technology to get their driverless vehicle out on the road as fast as possible.
A car that doesn’t need to be manually driven? That could easily change the world’s economy, not just the automobile industry.
However, with this fiercely hunted revolution comes a wave of hazards and pitfalls along the way.
In March 2018, a lady was walking her bike along a road in Arizona. She chose to cross the road and was struck by a driverless vehicle, which had not recognised her as a hazard. Consequently, the brakes had not been applied. The woman later died in hospital from her injuries.
The automobile pioneers are seeking a world in which there are no crashes that result from error. There are no faults. The time you would spend driving is now a thing of the past. You can completely rely on your driverless vehicle. It is much safer than a human driver behind the wheel.
In theory, this is widely accepted. If a car has the ability to read its surroundings with absolute accuracy and react safely to any hazard with no delay, then its advantages are obvious.
But how many lives could be at risk taken until this driving revolution is a reality? Does a driverless car revolutionise everything? Does it have any drawbacks? We delve into the argument below.
The Benefits of the Driverless Revolution:
- Fuel-Efficiency and Less Emissions:
In a driverless future, we would easily be looking at a greener future. The cars would be able to read the lowest amount of emissions and fuel it needed to make for a journey. It would then stick to that statistic.
This is without considering that most driverless cars in the future are likely to be electric or some sort of hybrid, bringing down the emissions down further still. They will be able to read how far they can go on one charge, when to stop, how long it will take to charge etc.
- Errors a Thing of the Past?
In a recent study, reports found that 80% of car crashes in the United States are caused by driver error. With a hands-free car, a foolish mistake or moment of panic would be obsolete. They know the rules and stick to them. There is no delay. There would be an instant response from the car to protect the safety of its passengers.
Another bonus? No more drink-driving.
- No Driving License Needed:
There would be no need for one. No more worrying about lessons and the pressures of driving tests. It would all become obsolete. Those who might struggle to drive, the disabled or elderly for example, would not need to worry.
Think about it. Driverless cars mean less traffic. It means more suitable chosen routes for your journeys. Your car would be able to instantly read traffic levels and decipher which roads to take. This would amount to less congestion and a more efficient road system.
Your drive has now become either a leisurely or productive time, without the need to pay attention to the road, you can keep your mind on other matters of importance.
- Car Safety Redesign
A driverless vehicle would be much more spacious, without the need for formulaic seat arrangements or dashboard gauges. The car would take care of everything. The whole design of the vehicle would change, with much more room inside.
Drawbacks of the Driverless Revolution:
- Huge Job Losses:
As soon as driverless cars hit the mainstream, the world would be looking at a future without taxis and lorry drivers. There would be no need for them anymore.
- Public Uncertainty:
The consumer has to be utterly sure that the cars can sort everything for them. Car crashes, especially on a fast-moving highway, tend to result in loss of life. It is uncommon for a human to make a mistake on a highway, so long as they pay attention.
If the car made an obvious error that you didn’t have the power to stop, then you would be putting your life in technology’s quivering hands.
- Cyber Security:
A problem that many consumers may overlook. If a driverless car’s system is based on built-up code, then this system could be hacked. Cyber warfare is a very real problem and the implications of this security are scary.
- Privacy Concerns:
The driverless car would likely want a bucketful of your data to hone its customisation settings. Would you be comfortable with that? It is especially concerning given the new privacy concerns regarding Facebook’s recent misuse of data.
Due to Google and Apple’s investment in the concept, many are worrying that the first cars will set a high-end standard to the rest of the industry, and then truly affordable driverless cars will still be a long way off.
Driverless Vehicles: a revolution to be feared or marvelled?
There are valid arguments on both sides of the driverless vehicle discussion.
There is no doubt that this would be the biggest leap in the world’s transportation system since flights were made commercial. The revolution is not a revolution yet. Whilst there is a race between car manufacturers to get driverless cars on the road, there are constant delays, not helped by tragedies such as the one in Arizona.
Eventually, it is clear to assume that the future – however far away it may be – will be dominated by driverless cars. In time, technology and security will validate these vehicles on the road.
Conversely, it is likely that an accident – no matter how uncommon – will eventually happen. In this moment, the driverless revolution will be called into question. There will be no individual to blame, only corporate bodies.
Will one rare accident be enough to slow the industry? It’s possible.
A lot of people are excited about this motor revolution. It is seen as the next step. The potential of the idea still overshadows the uncertainty surrounding its execution. It could change the world for the better.
Consumers will just have to put their faith in the pioneers.