Driverless cars are the new talk of the town.
Major giants inside the automobile industry have already show cased few of their self-driving car technology and many car companies aim to roll out production vehicles with driverless capabilities by 2020. In just a few years, industry experts expect fully autonomous vehicles to follow the trend.
Advantages of Driverless Cars
- Without the need for a driver, cars could become mini-leisure rooms. There would be more space and no need for everyone to face forwards. Entertainment technology, such as video screens, could be used to lighten long journeys without the concern of distracting the driver.
- Over 80% of car crashes in the USA are caused by driver error. There would be no bad drivers and less mistakes on the roads, if all vehicles became driverless. Drunk and drugged drivers would also be a thing of the past.
- Travelers would be able to journey overnight and sleep for the duration.
- Traffic could be coordinated more easily in urban areas to prevent long tailbacks at busy times. Commute times could be reduced drastically.
- Reduced or non-existent fatigue from driving, plus arguments over directions and navigation would be a thing of the past.
- Sensory technology could potentially perceive the environment better than human senses, seeing farther ahead, better in poor visibility, detecting smaller and more subtle obstacles, more reasons for less traffic accidents.
- Speed limits could be increased to reflect the safer driving, shortening journey times.
- Parking the vehicle and difficult maneuvering would be less stressful and require no special skills. The car could even just drop you off and then go and park itself.
- People who historically have difficulties with driving, such as disabled people and older citizens, as well as the very young, would be able to experience the freedom of car travel. There would be no need for drivers’ licenses or driving tests.
- Autonomous vehicles could bring about a massive reduction in insurance premiums for car owners.
- Efficient travel also means fuel savings, cutting costs.
- Reduced need for safety gaps means that road capacities for vehicles would be significantly increased.
- Passengers should experience a smoother riding experience.
- Self-aware cars would lead to a reduction in car theft.
Disadvantages of Driverless Cars
- Driverless cars would likely be out of the price range of most ordinary people when generally introduced, likely costing over $100,000.
- Truck drivers and taxi drivers will lose their jobs, as autonomous vehicles take over.
- A computer malfunction, even just a minor glitch, could cause worse crashes than anything that human error might bring about.
- If the car crashes, without a driver, who’s fault is it: Google/the software designer, or the owner of the vehicle?
- The cars would rely on the collection of location and user information, creating major privacy concerns.
- Hackers getting into the vehicle’s software and controlling or affecting its operation would be a major security worry.
- There are problems currently with autonomous vehicles operating in certain types of weather. Heavy rain interferes with roof-mounted laser sensors, and snow can interfere with its cameras.
- Reading human road signs is challenging for a robot.
- As drivers become more and more used to not driving, their proficiency and experience will diminish. Should they then need to drive under certain circumstances, there may be problems.
- The road system and infrastructure would likely need major upgrades for driverless vehicles to operate on them. Traffic and street lights, for instance, would likely all need altering.
- Self-driving cars would be great news for terrorists, as they could be loaded with explosives and used as moving bombs.
- Ethical problems could arise which a machine might struggle to deal with. Faced with a choice between plowing into a group of schoolchildren or going off a bridge and killing all its passengers, what does the vehicle do? Should the vehicle always swerve to avoid animals in the road or always prioritize the safety and comfort of passengers?
- Human behavior such as hand signals are difficult for a computer to understand.
- How would the police interact with driverless vehicles, especially in the case of accidents or crimes?