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Self-Driving Cars Pros and Cons

Google's self-driving concept

Driverless cars are considered today a game changer in terms of transportation because they could reduce the number of road crashes produced by human error, and they could also reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

Self-Driving Car Technology

How can a car that is run by a computer to reduce the number of road crashes, and also the number of vehicles on the planet?

Well, the technology behind self-driving cars is still under development, but such a vehicle responds faster than any human in case of a possible crash, and drives are safer because it only pays attention to the road not to a mobile phone, tablet, etc.

Self-driving vehicles will also reduce the number of people owning a car due to car sharing.

The number of cars on the road will be reduced this way (a car will be used my more than one person or family), and this will lead to a reduced level of air pollution and also a smaller number of traffic jams.

Driverless technology is completely changing the game today and the effects will be felt far beyond the car sector.

This technology will hit a large number of job sectors and basically any position with a driver will be redefined.

Mankind will almost surely experience a radical shift in how we move, where we live, and how our cities will look like.

The urban landscape will be fundamentally redesigned as a result of the new self-driving technology.

I already mentioned that the driverless technology would reduce the number of vehicles on the road, which means that the roads will be narrowed to expand the public space.

A reduced number of vehicles, more space for people and more green areas in towns would improve the quality of the air and would make the cities an ideal place for living.

Pros of Self-Driving Cars

1. Self-Driving Cars are safer vehicles on the road

In the U.S., 9 of 10 road accidents are caused by human error (driver error) because many drivers are using phones, tablets or other gadgets when driving, and this way they don’t pay attention to the road because they speak on the phone or they’re watching something on the phone or tablet.

Self-driving cars are connected in real time to the road and the all the obstacles around the vehicle, and they react faster than humans in case of a collision, which can avoid a car crash.

2. Passengers In the Driverless Cars Can Carry On With Their Activities

A self-driving car is an autonomous vehicle that can drive from one place to another without human intervention, and this is the reason why all the passengers inside the vehicle can carry on with their activities during the trip.

This will increase the productivity of the people using self-driving vehicles because instead of losing hours per day in traffic, they can spend the time in traffic working or doing other useful things instead of driving.

3. Travelers On Long Distances Would Be Able to Sleep Overnight in a Self-Driving Vehicle

By traveling on longer distances, all the passengers in the driverless car would be able to use the vehicle for sleeping overnight (like in the case of trains).

By being a able to spend the night in such a vehicle, all the passengers will be fresh when arriving at the destination.

4. Way Less Errors When Using a Self-Driving Car

The driver can be easily distracted by different events occurring inside the car or on the road, which is not the case when we talk about an AI (artificial intelligence) driving the vehicle.

When the driver gets distracted, the entire car and the passengers inside the vehicle are exposed to a possible car crash because the vehicle is moving on the road with a certain speed and the driver looks elsewhere.

The AI watches all the time the road ahead, on the sides and behind the vehicle much faster than a human can do it, and in the case of an imminent collision with people, animals, other vehicles or any other obstacles on the road, it will react by stopping the vehicle much faster than a driver.

5. Disabled People Will Be Able To Use A Vehicle

Disabled people will be able to use a self-driving vehicle to move from one place to another much easier than today.

The driverless car technology will give the opportunity to people that today can’t drive a vehicle to use such a car for moving faster from one place to another.

Actually, the self-driving technology will increase the mobility of the disabled individuals.

6. Commute Times Could Be Reduced Due To Coordinated Traffic

The large number of vehicles on the road today and an uncoordinated traffic increases the commute times for a very large number of people.

These people spend more hours in traffic due to the fact that almost all the vehicles on the road are driven by people, in which some are moving slowly because they are using their phones while driving, others are watching something on the phone or tablet, others are tired and feel sleepy, some are drunk other are high, some people have no driving licence, some are in a hurry and drive at high speeds increasing the chance of a crash, etc.

Replacing the cars driven by people with cars driven by computers will create the opportunity to coordinate the traffic.

A coordinated traffic would reduce the time spent by commuters on the road because all the vehicles will move after a certain path which will not disturb other road users, and this way the traffic jams would be eliminated.

If the entire traffic is coordinated and there are no traffic jams, the trip made by commuters daily will become shorter.

7. Less Vehicles On The Road

The concept of ‘car sharing’ and the concept of ‘self-driving vehicles’ will emerge to create driverless cars that are owned by one person, but are used by a large number of people.

It is known that we are using the car only 4% of the time even if we’ve paid a large amount of money to buy it.

A good car is not cheap, but instead of being on the road every day, it usually sits in the parking lot or in the garage many hours per day.

There are vehicles that are not used for days, months or even years, rusting outside or in a garage.

A vehicle that is used every day and in the weekends for trips on longer distances, is still used only a short period of time compared to the time spent in the parking lot.

However, the driverless car technology and the concept of car sharing, will create the possibility to use a car (like your own) that is owned by someone else.

A small fee will be paid every time you use the car, but even so, the fee would be smaller than the money spent to own the car and use it by yourself.

The owner of the vehicle will receive the fee for every person or family that uses the vehicle, and this way will be able to maintain the vehicle in good shape and will also make some profit.

Because less people will own vehicles and a car will be used by a large number of people, the number of cars on the road will be drastically reduced.

8. More Space for People

A reduced number of cars on the road will ease the traffic, will eliminate traffic jams and will narrow the roads.

If the roads will occupy less space in the cities, more space will be allocated for pedestrians.

Pedestrian areas in the cities are bringing people together and they feel better in that space because there are no vehicles to bother them and to pollute the air with exhaust gases.

9. Reduced Air Pollution

It is known that the largest cities of the planet that are hosting a very large number of vehicles are the most polluted areas of the planet and they constantly suffer due to traffic jams.

A network of self-driving cars used by all the people in the city, will drastically reduce the number of vehicles in the town, which will also reduce the level of air pollution caused by them.

Less vehicles on the road means cleaner air, and a friendlier area for pedestrians.

10. Cheaper Insurance

The U.S. Department of Transportation valued the human life (VSL = value of statistical life) in 2016 at $9.6 million.

The introduction of the self-driving technology, will reduce the risk of car crashes in the country and this could lower the value of the car insurances.

Cons of Self-Driving Cars

1. Security Behind Self-Driving Cars Would Be A Constant Threat

A self-driving car will be run by an AI (artificial intelligence), which would be the perfect target for hackers interested to steal the vehicle or to destroy it.

Security software should be the number one priority in the case the of driverless vehicles.

Once hacked, the attacker could take control of the self-driving vehicle and change the destination of the trip, can lock the doors and even kidnap the people inside the car along with the vehicle.

2. Improper Driving Due To Damaged Sensors

The self-driving technology relies on an AI that is programmed to drive the car as safely as possible, and to do this the AI uses a large number of sensors and instruments that are mounted on the vehicle and reporting in real time about the environment around the car.

If all the sensors are working properly, the driverless car can commute through traffic and asses the environment around the vehicle with 100% accuracy.

If any of these sensors are damaged, the car will understand the environment around the car with less accuracy which could affect the driving skills of the AI.

Such a vehicle becomes dangerous for both the passengers inside the car and the other traffic participants.

3. Losing driving skills for people

A longer usage of the self-driving technology could create people that have totally forgotten how to drive a vehicle, so they can travel from one place to another only by using a driverless vehicle.

It is not 100% safe for us to rely only on technology, people should not forget how to drive a vehicle, at least for moments when the AI or the sensors of the vehicle could be damaged, and the vehicle could move from one place to another only by being driven by a person with driving skills.

One thing is for sure, the self-driving technology will make happy mostly the people that are not suited for driving (so they don’t like or are afraid to do it) and the people that can’t drive a vehicle due to a medical condition.

However, all the people that are born to be drivers and love to drive a vehicle, will become extremely frustrated.

4. Who will be responsible in the driverless car gets into an accident?

In a road crash with a self-driving car who will be responsible for the damage and maybe victims involved in that accident?

The people inside the driverless vehicle? the company that built the car and provided the AI?

If the driverless car gets into an accident with a regular car, what happens then? who is responsible?

A driving licence will be required for the passengers of the driverless vehicles? or there will be a driving licence for the driverless car?

5. Loss of Jobs for Drivers

Any job involving driving today is in danger due to the development of the self-driving technology.

Only in the U.S. there are about 4 million trucking jobs, which represents about 2% of the country’s working force.

The self-driving technology for trucks is not ready yet, but in a decade from now on it can be ready, and then the loss of jobs in the trucking industry will become a reality.

Taxi and bus drivers, and even the today’s Uber and Lyft drivers will be affected.

Actually, any job that involves driving a vehicle will be seriously affected.

6. Governments Will Lose Revenues

Traffic tickets in the U.S. bring about $5 million every year in the budget, and the lack of drivers in cars and road crashes will affect even the jobs of traffic police.

Driverless car sharing will also reduce the number of people that own a vehicle, which means diminished revenues for the government again.

The end of car ownership and the reduced number of vehicles on the road will end the era of parking lots and parking garages.

A self-driving car owned by one person will be used by so many people that will have no time to sit in a parking lot because right after dropping a passenger, will take another one for a new trip, so it will be constantly on the road.

Gas stations could also suffer because the future driverless vehicles will certainly be electric, so there will be no need for refueling at the gas station.

Final conclusion

It is certain that if not us, at least our kids will live in a world where only driverless vehicles will be on the road.

The self-driving technology will disrupt the entire human society known today because many things will disappear, while newer ones will emerge.

People will live better lives on the planet because a reduced number of vehicles on the road will improve the quality of the air and will create more pedestrian and green areas.

The possibility to only use a vehicle for a small fee without owning one, and the lack of car crashes will only create a better and safer environment for us here on the blue planet.

Article written by:

I am a writer and reporter for the clean energy sector, I cover climate change issues, new clean technologies, sustainability and green cars. Danny Ovy

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