The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles
On surface level, it appears completely self-driving cars are just around the corner. Autonomy systems specialist Nvidia predicts that fully self-driving cars will be on the road by 2025, and they aren’t alone. Many car manufacturers are excitedly throwing around dates of when their self-driving models will be available to buy, and are eager to get self-driving cars on the road as soon as possible.
However, it is likely we will be waiting longer than predicted. Cars that drive themselves almost all the time without human input are currently illegal to drive on public roads. However, that’s not to say progression isn’t happening. So far we’ve already been exposed to partial autonomous driving with autopilot and automatic modes in many new vehicles. This technology is enabling cars to park themselves, steer down a motorway, change lanes and adjust speed to oncoming traffic.
The UK government is keen to be a leader in autonomous technology, and is contributing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of money into trials and development. So whilst we may be years off completely ‘driverless’ cars, there are some pros and cons to consider for when that day comes.
Pros of Driverless/Fully Autonomous Cars
No Human Error
Computers take away the possibility of human error and distractions whilst driving. That motorbike you didn’t spot? The car’s computer did.
Less Accidents and Deaths
As there is no possibility of human error or distraction, it’s likely there will be less accidents and reduced fatalities on the road, the biggest pro of all.
Road rage? What Road Rage?
We all experience road rage at some point in our lives. Whether you’re usually the culprit or on the receiving end of it, those days will be gone. Computers won’t do tailgating, and they don’t have middle fingers. That means a lot less of this.
No More Drink Driving
Drink driving should no longer be a concern, as you won’t have to rely on a designated driver to get you home after a night out, your car will do the driving, safely.
Freedom for Disabled and Elderly
Driverless cars will allow for disabled and those less mobile to get around easier and comfortably. Driverless cars mean more freedom and less dependence on other people or forms of transport.
Save Time When Late
Late for that date or important business meeting? No worries, you self-driving car could drop you off at your destination and park itself, whilst you get a move on.
Police Time Better Spent
The police will have more time to focus on important crimes as traffic incidents, speeding and careless driving should be a thing of the past.
Cheaper Car Insurance
As risk will be based mainly on the vehicle rather than the person driving it, it is likely insurance will be cheaper.
Higher Speeds on the Roads
Just because driverless cars are predicted to be safer, doesn’t mean they will have to drive slowly. Quite the opposite in fact, driverless cars could mean higher speeds on roads as computers are the ones doing the driving – once again – less human error.
Cons of Driverless/Fully Autonomous Cars
Increasingly connected vehicles means they are more vulnerable to the threat of hackers, who may be able to take over control of the cars. Equally, there are privacy concerns in the car being tracked and knowing your frequent destinations, i.e. your home.
Taxi and Lorry Drivers Jobs
With driverless vehicles, there is the possibility of taxi and lorry drivers losing their jobs.
Loss of Driving Skill Over Time
Many drivers will have driven the majority of their life, and suddenly, when they no longer have to drive, they could lose that well developed skill. If certain conditions then require the driver to take the wheel, they could overestimate their ability.
Whilst on average accidents may be reduced, some accidents may be worse than if caused by human error. An error in the car computer’s coding after an update for example could lead to glitches and potential accidents that could have been prevented by a human.
Not Suited for All Weathers?
As seen with car technology available today, weather can sometimes interfere with their effectiveness. For instance, parking sensors and cameras can’t work with snow. So what happens with autonomous cars’ laser sensors during harsh weather?
New Road Layouts and Infrastructure
As you would expect, roads and infrastructure will need to change to accommodate new driverless vehicles. That requires a lot of money.
Predicting and Understanding
Cars would have trouble understanding human signals we can so easily recognise.
So, whilst we may be a few years off fully driverless cars, we can at least make use of the partial autonomy available to us today, and the number of cars offering this is certain to grow.
Until you’ve got a driverless car you’re going to need to be insured. We will help source you a competitive quote for your specialist vehicle, so contact us today.