Pros and Cons of Self-Driving Cars
Imagine a world where everybody was following the traffic rules and the “road accident” was a thing of the past? The technology behind autonomous vehicles is what brings that hope and many automobile manufacturers believe is the future of transit. But what are self-driving vehicles and should we be concerned about such significant car modifications that could change the way we commute forever?
Self-driving cars are automobiles that do not require human operations to drive and navigate. Unlike conventional cars, driverless cars use various technological elements such as cameras, sensors, GPS tracking, and advanced software to interpret and respond to traffic, pedestrians, and other surroundings on the road. Self-driving cars offer a fascinating advancement in commutation and, despite, not currently being legal, experts predict that autonomous vehicles will eventually become the dominant mode of transportation. Companies such as Tesla have already started giving their users the option of autonomous driving. With that being said, before you consider buying a self-driving car (now or in the future), we urge you to first go through our list of the pros and cons of self-driving cars so that you are better equipped to make an informed decision.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Driving Cars
Self-driving vehicles with their sci-fi technology may seem like objects of the distant future, but the truth is that the evolution of automated driving systems is very much underway today. Since we are moving towards technology that has not fully developed and assessed with the test of time, experts have been weighing the benefits and potential disadvantages of autonomous driving cars. For instance, though touting convenience and safety, makers of self-driving systems constantly deal with questions of security, regulation, and product liability.
Whilst we are a long way away from the roads being flooded with driverless cars, we can observe the potential benefits a fully driverless car society could bring, as well as the hurdles manufacturers would need to overcome to make driverless cars a mainstream reality.
10 Pros of Self Driving Cars
- Prevention of car accidents. Computers based on sophisticated systems and algorithms will essentially eliminate costly human error, as they have been doing with aircraft for decades. Major causes of accidents, including drunk or distracted driving, will not be factors with self-driving cars. In total, 90% of the accidents generally caused can potentially be reduced or eliminated.
- Traffic efficiency. With the ability to communicate in real-time, cars will be able to travel efficiently at optimized distances from each other. They will also determine the best route for you to take, to eliminate bumper-to-bumper traffic jams. Without the human factor, there will be fewer traffic blocks anyway.
- Better for the environment. Autonomous cars will likely be electric rather than utilizing internal combustion. This will contribute to reducing emissions and becoming more environmentally sustainable.
- Increased accessibility for differently-abled people. Driverless cars will allow for the disabled and those less mobile to get around easily and comfortably. Driverless cars mean more freedom and less dependence on other people.
- Higher speed limits on roads. As driverless cars are predicted to be safer, this could translate into higher speeds limits on roads as computers are the ones doing the driving – once again – less human error.
- Decreased road rage for commuters. With computers doing all the driving, fewer errors will be committed on the roads. Besides this, computers do not tailgate or express aggression as humans do when they drive.
- Better riding experience. Self-driving cars will bring the great benefit of not having to concentrate on what is happening on the road. Commutes will no longer be as boring as the technology will bring the opportunity to turn cars into leisure rooms where you can relax and watch a movie as you wait to arrive at your destination. That means instead of complaining about traffic jams motorists can watch a movie on Netflix!
- Economic benefits. Once autonomous cars are fully integrated into our transport system, there will be vast savings in terms of free time for people to be productive while commuting. Additionally, the dramatic decrease in traffic accidents caused will bring enormous savings in maintenance costs, injury claims, and money spent on car accident lawyers.
- Police time spent on other things. Since automation will take out the human element from transportation, police officers will not need to monitor speed limits, reckless driving and mediate a traffic accident.
- Comfort for people who do not like driving. With driverless cars, you will not have to drive for mundane errands. Moreover, the hassle of finding park spots and doing parallel parking will be a thing of the past.
10 Cons of Self-Driving Cars
Along with the benefits (driverless cars pros), there are also some disadvantages of driverless cars that motorists will need to consider before purchasing any self-driving vehicle.
- Security concerns. One of the biggest potential cons of self-driving cars is the possibility of hacking. Autonomous vehicles require a network pool to communicate with other cars on the road. Any hacks in the network pool could wreak significant damage on busy roads by causing collisions and gridlock traffic.
- Initial costs are high. Autonomous cars, running on electric batteries, will lead to long-term savings but the initial cost of buying any such automobile could be too expensive for everyday families.
- Machine error. Even though computers are more reliable than humans and will prevent more traffic accidents than causing them, they are not perfect. In the case that software or any part of the vehicle fails, an autonomous vehicle could put the driver in more danger than if the driver was to personally take control of the vehicle.
- Self-driving cars are not moral machines. The precision of algorithms is not useful in difficult situations where a decision has to be made to minimize loss. If given the situation to save the life of a pedestrian by crashing the car in a tree, will the autonomous driving system be able to make the correct decision, is a question that needs the attention of carmakers.
- New road infrastructure is required. As you would expect, roads and telecommunication infrastructure will need to change to accommodate new driverless vehicles. This would require heavy infrastructure investment by the government or private enterprise to cover the capital.
- Loss of jobs. With the advent of driverless cars, truck drivers and taxi drivers will no longer be required, causing a potential surge in unemployment among lesser-skilled workers.
- Loss of driving skill over time. If driverless cars become the norm, over time most people will lose the skill of driving and newer generations will never learn to drive. If certain conditions then require the driver to take the wheel, they could overestimate their ability or not be able to do so at all.
- The weather may be an issue. Autonomous vehicles will be heavily reliant on sensors and cameras. During rain and harsh cold, the efficiency of these technologies may be affected and the risk of error may increase.
- All or nothing to reap the benefits of autonomous transportation. The economic, environmental, and safety benefits depend on the joint change in road infrastructure, laws and regulations around self-driving cars, and the complete societal shift towards adopting self-driving.
- Disappointment for people who like driving. If there comes a time when 100% of the vehicles in our transport systems are automated, those that love to drive recreationally and find the activity engaging will be missing out.
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How Self-Driving Cars Impact The Future
The pros and cons of autonomous cars listed above provide us with a cost-benefit analysis of adopting driverless vehicles. It must be conceded there are areas of this technology that needs advancement but one thing is for certain: if adopted, driverless vehicles will alter the way humans interact and deal with pedestrians, traffic, and transportation. Besides this, there will be a positive impact on the climate due to fewer emissions, increased road safety, altered road infrastructure, and change in the perception of public transportation as you may not see bus and taxi drivers anymore. Uber and Lyft might also become driverless enterprises! People will have more time on their hands which will lead to greater productivity. This will add to the increase in economic prosperity achieved from the independence of differently-abled people to do tasks on their own and contribute to society. With all these alterations combined, we can expect a dramatic cultural shift in jobs, city layouts, and the overall well-being of humans from adopting self-driving cars.
With all that said, getting to a point where complete integration of self-driving cars is achieved will not be easy. Most crucial is the fact that people will have to adapt to the idea of being transported without a driver. It will take time for the public to familiarize themselves with the new technology. Over this transitional period, hidden aspects of autonomous vehicles will become apparent, and speedy changes of laws, people’s attitudes, and infrastructure will be required to overcome them. Just like cars revolutionized human life nearly a century ago, it is safe to say that the advent of self-driving cars will do the same in the near future.
Technology Behind Autonomous Vehicles Is Here To Stay
Self-driving cars are an avenue of technology that is rapidly advancing and poses a complete transformation in the way we will view transportation. The economic advantages through benefits such as greater safety for human drivers, reduction in drunk driving, overall traffic efficiency, and reduced auto accidents are only some of the reasons why the auto industry is moving forward with the technology behind autonomous vehicles. On the flip side, there are some cons of self-driving automobiles that have people rightfully concerned such as over-reliance on software and technology that needs testing, unemployment for public transport drivers, and the large initial cost of infrastructure that supports vehicle automation. In the future, it is expected that these and unforeseen hurdles will be dealt with and driverless cars will become the norm. Hopefully, we will see the driverless cars pros and cons lean heavily to the positive side as the technology reduces auto accidents and changes society for the better. Only time will tell the score between human drivers and computer drivers and which one is a net positive for society when it comes to the way we should be driving cars.
Matthew is a freelance writer who is passionate about technology, music, photography, and decentralized finance.