Self-driving cars have been a topic of discussion ever since cars themselves became fully integrated into American transportation. Although originating as a dream for the distant future, self-driving cars have been in the works for almost ten years now and will inevitably be introduced to the public in as little as three years.
At first glance, it seems practical to doubt a system that relies solely on new technology, especially as it has the potential to be life threatening.
In 2009, Google began their project of creating safe self-driving cars to be one day implemented in the daily American life. After seven years, the self-driving car company, Waymo, split off from Google to focus all intentions on the automated driving initiative.
Car manufacturers such as General Motors, Tesla and Ford have also been doing research and experimentation on the side, with plans to have automated vehicles incorporated at full scale in the coming years. Ford, for example, plans on launching their automated-taxi system to have its full effect by 2021.
As the far-out future comes closer to a reality, questions arise regarding the safety of self-driving cars and whether or not humans should rely on purely machines to safely transport them from place to place. At first glance, it seems practical to doubt a system that relies solely on new technology, especially as it has the potential to be life threatening. When examining the technologies used and the purpose of the initiative, however, it can be seen that self-driving cars will end with a staggeringly less amount of car accidents and traffic, as well as being eco-friendly.
A fear of new, revolutionary technology is dangerous to innovations and newfound knowledge
Waymo has been developing technology that will sense pedestrians, cyclists, road work and other vehicles from up to three football fields away in all directions. All parts of the automated vehicle initiative are designed to limit car accidents, 94% of which are caused by human error (Waymo). By eliminating human errors while driving, the amount of fatalities per year could drop drastically, saving lives.
General motors explained the systems that make self-driving cars run in their 2018 Self-Driving Safety Report. These systems include behavioral control, machine learning, simulation, perception, localization, mapping, planning, remote assistance, dispatch and routing, controls, networking and safety (General Motors).
A fear of new, revolutionary technology is dangerous to innovations and newfound knowledge. Today, smartphone technology is still questioned for opening doors to the realms of wide-internet usage and helping to diffuse social media.
The fear regarding fully-automated cars is that entrusting new technology to safely transport people from place to place will result in system failures and fatal car accidents. As the strong majority of car accidents are caused by poor human judgement, the implementation of complex technological systems will drastically reduce these accidents.
New technology is coming, and it is revolutionary in the world of transportation.
The technology has been in the works for almost ten years to ensure that it will be safe to be available to the general public. In 2016, 40,200 people died in motor vehicle accidents (The New York Times). Even if the occasional accident happens with self-driving cars, as nothing is 100% effective, the amount of lives saved will outnumber the amount of lives lost.
Self-driving cars have been highly anticipated and highly debated, but when the data shows the potential to have more lives saved than lost, it just isn’t an ethical dilemma. Of course, not everyone on the streets will have a fully-automated vehicle, but the implementation of a number of them on the streets will decrease car crashes along with the fatalities that accompany these accidents.
Driving is dangerous, and even those with a perfect driving record are still in danger every time they get behind the wheel. Even if someone had perfect judgement, they are in danger of the poor judgement of everyone else around them.
When humans hand over the life-threatening decision-making to smarter technology than a person’s subjective brain, it will have a positive impact on the world of transportation. New technology is coming, and it is revolutionary in the world of transportation.
Photo courtesy of Google