Not many industries have made an impact on society the way the car industry did in the last century. The car industry revolutionized modern life as we know it, and soon it will begin another revolution with the mass introduction of self-driving vehicles.
Many manufacturers are already planning to release driverless cars in the next few years, and some are even working on projects to manufacture driverless trucks. It’s this latest idea— that a self-driving fleet of trucks will soon be traveling down your nearest highway—that has recently created a buzz in the trucking industry, with many fearing that a switch could potentially leave millions unemployed in the near future. (The trucking industry employs about 3.5 million Americans.)
And while feelings are mixed about these futuristic trucks taking on the highways, there’s a more open discussion going on about driverless cars for the average consumer.
There is no doubt that driverless cars will offer many benefits, the most obvious one being eliminating human error such as falling asleep at the wheel on long drives. However, there other positives that we may not be aware of, such as the fact that it will allow the driver to focus on the tasks at hand instead of mentally and socially isolating them. Additionally, it is estimated that the number of accidents will significantly decrease (humans are currently the number one cause of car accidents in the United States.) Furthermore, more efficient driving will eventually lead to a better flow of traffic and could sharply reduce travel time.
However, despite the various benefits it offers, there’s still huge room for concern when it comes to driverless technology. Probably, the thing that concerns consumers the most is the fact that this kind of technology doesn’t come cheap. While the idea of owning a driverless car seems interesting and innovative, buying and maintaining a self-driving car may be well out of budget for most of us.
Additionally, there other very intriguing questions which still don’t have a clear answer. Who would hold responsibility for accidents? And what about hackers? Once technology is involved the question about hacking must be asked. If a hacker takes control of the car while in self-driving mode, this could be a potential life threatening situation for anyone inside the vehicle and outside of it as well. Undoubtedly, regulating self-driving laws will be a huge challenge.
When it comes to driverless cars the excitement around the topic can’t be contained. With the rise of advanced computing technology, companies like Telsa, BMW, Uber, and Google are in a race to see whose self-driving car will make the biggest impact (no pun intended.) Uber has already begun rolling out cars equipped with their self-driving technology in both San Francisco and Arizona, and Tesla predicts that by the end of 2018 all their cars will have a self-driving feature. Meanwhile, Google and BMW are not far behind with estimates as early as 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Yes, the future has arrived, but fortunately for us, we still have some time to collect our thoughts and wrap our heads around the idea that soon the task of driving ourselves will be a thing of the past.
By Rachael Campbell