There’s been a lot of controversy and apprehensions surrounding self-driving cars or autonomous cars, if you may. The jury is out, but still confused.
What Are Self-Driving Cars?
According to Techopeida:
On one hand, self-driving cars are regarded as a breakthrough innovation and a milestone in the world of technology.
However, concerns about road safety and other implications of driverless technology are always under discussion.
Most accidents are preventable and are caused as a result of driver distraction or human error.
In fact, there’s been a great support in the sphere of technology to make cars safer and drivers more alert.
Most regular cars today come packed with automatic parking assist, radar cruise control, driver drowsing alert, and sensors that control vehicle speeds based on geo and locations.
In fact, Tesla’s autopilot system has been quite a talking point in the auto industry.
However, it’s been a bitter-sweet accomplishment for Elon Musk’s EV brand as there have been several accidents reported where the autopilot system was active.
Although the idea of a car driving itself is straight from a futuristic movie, the reality is that self-driving cars aren’t that far off.
To give you deeper insight on the topic, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of pros and cons surrounding the implementation of self-driving cars and driverless technology.
Pros of Self-Driving Cars
- Self-driving cars will serve a multitude of purposes
Since driverless technology doesn’t necessarily require a driver, cars could double up as mini leisure rooms.
Also, this will make for more useable space inside the vehicle and passengers can sit in a comfortable manner.
- Less distraction for drivers
Using infotainment systems, consuming entertainment such as games, movies, etc. could be done without any peril in terms of distraction to the driver.
- Follow traffic rules
Human drivers tend to bend or break traffic rules. They take risks, break traffic signals or park in accident-prone spots, over speed, or talk on the phone while driving.
On the hand, self-driving cars will prevent taking risks or unnecessarily violate traffic rules.
- Better safety
Many road accidents and car crashes in the US are attributed to driver error.
With driverless technology powering self-driving cars, there would be fewer errors and fewer mistakes.
The software, smart artificial intelligence systems, and LiDAR sensors that make autonomous cars a reality are hardwired to follow traffic rules to the T.
This means even drivers under the influence of intoxicants won’t be the cause of accidents. This way, driverless technology will ensure safer road conditions.
- Better road journey
For people who use cars for long hauls and travelling extensively, driverless cars will make for a comfortable journey.
Overnight journeys will be more comfortable as the occupants can sleep and rest while being on the move.
- Better traffic management
With self-driving cars, traffic can be better coordinated to provide a seamless commute experience devoid of bottlenecks and traffic jams during busy hours.
This will result in significantly lower commute times.
Traffic management will drastically improve, especially with the rise of IoT based smart cities since the software for self-driving cars can be centrally updated to provide a superb commute experience.
- Convenient way of commuting
Driverless cars will eliminate drivers from experiencing fatigue. And with integrated maps guiding the car as a default mechanism, getting lost or getting stuck in the wrong location will be a thing of the past.
- Better technology means more advantages
Driverless tech largely comprises of sensors and AI software systems that can perceive road conditions, weather conditions, and the overall environment in a more efficient and swift manner than humans can.
This includes seeing farther ahead in conditions of poor visibility and detecting smaller obstacles that may go unnoticed by humans.
Additionally, since several cameras are required to aid the propulsion system, self-driving cars will be able to judge blind spots with ease.
This will make them more aware and vigilant than a human driver.
Furthermore, highway speed limits could be increased, given the higher standards of safety. This will significantly reduce journey times.
- Enhanced convenience
Any difficulty in manoeuvring or parking will be eliminated since the car will be capable of handling complicated moves with ease.
This will make commuting less stressful and the car could even drop you off and then go park itself!
People who face difficulties in driving such as old people, differently abled people, and children will also have the chance to experience their own independence and the freedom of solo car travel.
Furthermore, the need for a driving license or driving tests will be eliminated.
- Insurance benefits
Higher safety standards and fewer associated risks would reduce insurance premiums for car owners.
- Fuel to cost advantage
In all probability, self-driving cars will be powered by electricity or hydrogen or some alternate form of propulsion technology.
This means major savings when it comes to fuel costs.
- Environmental benefits
Lesser or no fuel consumption means greater efficiency which in-turn means fewer carbon emissions and fewer pollution levels.
Cons of Self-Driving Cars
- Higher cost of acquisition
Driverless technology is expensive. This makes self-driving cars an expensive affair and unaffordable for most people.
Autonomous cars are slated to cost over $100,000!
- Loss of jobs
The introduction of driverless technology will result in several jobs that will be lost.
Truck drivers, taxi drivers, Uber, and other delivery people will be gravely impacted.
- Too much dependency on tech
Self-driving cars heavily rely on a combination of hardware and software to make autonomous propulsion a possibility.
Even a minor malfunction, just a minor glitch, will cause a colossal failure and result in a major accident.
Autonomous cars are famous for having trouble navigating around pedestrians.
Driverless technology systems have trouble comprehending and determining human intention on the roads.
This dependency on technology can boomerang in terms of unsafe deployments and increased accidents.
- Commuting issues
Since driverless cars obey traffic rules and regulations, there’s a higher chance of traffic being slower and less organic.
This is primarily because driverless tech is not fully capable of improvising or making human-like decisions and judgment calls.
Self-driving cars are said to move about like how student drivers drive. They are slow and timid in terms of maneuverability.
This makes them unsafe and frustrating on a road shared with regular cars operated by human drivers.
- Legal and ethical issues
Driverless technology raises big questions when it comes to legal and ethical aspects.
For instance, if a driverless car crashes, who’s to be blamed? Is it the manufacturer’s fault or the owner’s fault?
How will the police deal with driverless vehicles? What are they supposed to do in case of accidents?
Self-driving cars will definitely spark debates and issues about legal, ethical, and financial accountability.
- Privacy issues
Driverless technology heavily depends on self-learning techniques that revolve around the collection of location-based data and other sensitive information which could create major security and privacy concerns.
Heavy reliance on software and computer systems to control autonomous cars gives hackers a chance to get into any vehicle’s software and controlling its operation.
This is a major security concern.
- Maintenance issues
Vehicle maintenance will be a matter of grave concern since the car is driving itself.
All self-driving cars will have to be maintained on regular intervals and under standard governmental guidance or law.
This process will ensure that every driverless car is mechanically fit and able.
- Miscellaneous restrictions
Autonomous vehicles find it challenging to operate in certain types of weather conditions such as heavy rains.
Rain and snow affect the various LIDAR sensors and cameras that help the car learn about its surrounding environment.
Other limitations include difficulty in reading road signs, registering obstacles such as potholes, speedbumps, and any other new changes to the road conditions.
Driverless cars will render humans as unnecessary. This means human drivers will tend to lose their experience and skills to drive well under various road conditions.
Should humans need to drive again, their lack of proficiency will restrict them from doing so.
Overall, the road and traffic system will need new rules and infrastructure to accommodate self-driving cars.
Additions of better street lighting, broader shoulders, a run-off area, etc. would need to be included too.
AI-powered vehicles although efficient, cannot replicate human behavior such as negotiating heavy traffic, swerving around jaywalkers, understanding hand signals, and other such common driving practices that humans are accustomed to.
Although self-driving cars are not that far off being a stunning reality, they are not yet perfected.
Major auto giants such as BMW, Lexus, Nissan, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Waymo, and Uber are heavily investing in making driverless cars a reality.
However, whether self-driving cars should be introduced any time soon is still up for debate.
What do you think? Are there any pros or cons that you think we’ve missed?
We’d love to hear from you.