The automotive sector is one area where technology is developing at a significantly fast pace. From developments in green technology to forward emergency braking in luxury vehicles, innovation is at the heart of the automotive sector.
A particularly popular area of interest is driverless vehicles. Essentially, these self-driving cars use a vast array of sensors to understand the environment around the vehicle and use this information to navigate through the streets to your destination – without the need for assistance from a human.
One of the main reasons behind the development of driverless vehicles is the potential to significantly reduce the number of road traffic accidents, some of which can be fatal. Human error is a natural part of life, but when this occurs behind the wheel of a car, it can lead to catastrophic consequences – consequences which driverless vehicles are designed to avoid.
So why haven’t driverless vehicles hit the roads already? What’s stopping self-driving cars from gaining mass market approval? Although driverless vehicles present a wealth of new opportunities and advantages, there are numerous disadvantages behind the use of these vehicles, including the high costs involved.
Advantages of driverless vehicles
1) Potential to reduce the number of road accidents
It’s been suggested that 57% of British and American roadway accidents are due to human error. With driverless vehicles, it’s suggested this number could dramatically decrease as unlike humans, the computer technology in cars can’t be ‘distracted’.
2) Passengers can carry on with other things
Following on from the previous point, it’s easy for a driver to get distracted in a car. They could be immersed in deep conversation with a passenger or simply listening to some music. With driverless vehicles, you no longer have to worry about being distracted by other people or music and can actually enjoy them. If you’re on your morning commute, it even provides you the opportunity to get some last minute preparation in before a big meeting.
3) Mobility for disabled individuals
Many disabled individuals who aren’t able to drive a car often rely on public transportation, which can be difficult depending on their circumstances. With driverless vehicles, many disabled passengers can enjoy the benefits of enhanced mobility and no longer have to rely on public transportation.
Disadvantages of driverless vehicles
1) Potential to be hacked
I mentioned earlier how one of the pros of driverless vehicles is the ability of computer technology to avoid becoming distracted. Yet, you could argue that driverless vehicles can become distracted in a less conventional way – through being hacked.
There have been demonstrations in the past where standard vehicles have been hacked, allowing the hackers to slam the brakes on or accelerate the car rapidly. If a driverless vehicle was to be hacked, it’s been suggested that there’s less of an opportunity for a passenger to correct any errors.
2) What happens if a sensor goes out?
If driverless vehicles rely on sensors placed all around the car to assess conditions and navigate traffic, what happens if one or more sensors get damaged?
How does the car respond?
Does it just keep going and hope not to hit anything?
3) Cost of the technology
The amount of software and technology that’s required to build a driverless vehicle is likely to be quite expensive, meaning these costs need to be recouped through high sales prices. Consumers may not want to pay such high costs for a driverless car and may prefer to stick to the current system.
Overall, there are many advantages and disadvantages to driverless vehicles, from the potential to reduce road traffic accidents to the high costs of the technology.
It seems that there’s still a way to go in testing these vehicles before introducing them to the mass market, making sure that the positives significantly outweigh any negatives.
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