People of this generation grew up seeing the ideas of self-driving cars in their favorite series or films, but how many saw the potential for it to become a reality? Well, we’re on the cusp of the time where self-driving cars could become a standard with several models having some features like self-parking already. Some of the even fancier makes of cars already have this autonomous driving ability. But what does it mean for our future? Is this a path we really should be going down? Here are some of the benefits of self-driving cars, but also the dangers that could come with them.
Less human error but more computer error
Let’s face it, humans make mistakes on the roads and cause some serious pile-ups. Anything from a simple distraction to complacency and negligence can lead to a motor vehicle accident. And these accidents can have serious impacts on people’s lives. With self-driving cars, everything is controlled by a computer that has faster reaction times than humans and that won’t speed or get distracted, greatly reducing the chance of any accidents occurring.
On the other hand, computers can malfunction too and don’t have the moral and thinking capacity of people. They could potentially be hacked and used to wreak havoc. Plus, there’s always that annoying but necessary routine of having to update.
More accessibility but a loss of jobs
People who were previously unable to drive would be able to own a car and get from place to place with the advent of self-driving cars. People with visual impairment, the elderly, and people who suffer from uncontrolled epilepsy or diabetes would be able to get behind the proverbial wheel and be able to get around without assistance. This will also remove the need for driver’s license testing.
But people who work in the sector, such as taxi drivers, government workers, and even traffic officials may lose their jobs. These sectors form fairly large parts of a thriving economy and it would be difficult to fit them in elsewhere.
More time for everyone but possibly more congestion
With self-driving cars, you might find that you have the time to do other things while on your commute, like preparing for a meeting, making important phone calls for the day, or just having your morning cup of coffee.
A reduction in bumper-bashings will also reduce those traffic jams caused by such accidents, giving you a less interrupted ride. With the cars being able to connect to one another, routes can be planned to minimize driving time and get you to your destination more quickly. The reverse is also possible however, with more cars being on the road as more people have access to them.
What about the environment?
This all depends on how the cars will be powered. Many of the leading manufacturers intend to make the cars electrically powered, which would reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses from cars, but may put more strain on the power grid and increase the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production. If we are able to find environmentally friendly ways to produce the needed electricity, these new cars would reduce the impact of travel on the environment.
If, however, these cars are powered by fossil fuels, there is likely to be an increased impact on the environment owing to the increased number of cars on the road due to increased accessibility.