No matter the term, whether it is a ‘self-driving’, driverless, highly autonomous or autonomous vehicle, the result is the control element shifting from humans to computers. The future of this technology brings with it many advantages but some disadvantages that could see the shaping of automotive freedom for society in the future.
Audi for example have been trying to create an autonomous vehicle for a number of years. Some of the technology it has developed they have used in their current models or are planned for their upcoming models.
Audi have created a system that links with traffic lights so that the car will speed up or slowly brake to optimise petrol usage by either slowing down or speeding up for the lights. It also has a stop-start system that will start the engine five seconds before the lights turn green. The aim of all this technology is to save petrol, by removing the jerky breaking that driver’s usual do when they come to the lights.
The prototype that Google showed off on May 28th far exceeded the building blocks that Audi have in store for its upcoming models. It is aiming for a fully autonomous vehicle that will require no human control, except for entering a destination. The current prototype has no steering wheel and no pedals, which for some sounds scary, but for others sounds amazing.
After Google showed off its prototype on May 28th, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick posted the following to Twitter
and in the same day said the following:
Self-driving cars are the future for the automotive industry and could transform many other industries in the process. But how will these autonomous cars advantage your life?
Here are some of the possible benefits of autonomous vehicles:
1. Self-driving cars WILL save lives: This is the most obvious of applications and is the clear reason why the technology is required. According to an expert for The Age, the autonomous cars could “slash the road toll by 80 per cent”. Furthering on from the statement that “Experts know human error is to blame for about 95 per cent of collisions on the roads.”
2. Autonomous cars will be more fuel efficient: with the price of fuel ever increasing the wastage occurring due to human error will be eliminated error, thereby maximising fuel. Also cars will be smaller and lighter as less safety features will be required.
3. Commutes will be faster and less stressful: The worst part of many Australians is the commute to and from work. With the assistance of self-driving cars the commute will be shorter as cars will be able to drive at a steadier speed. Also you can have a nap on the way to and from work.
4. More people will be able to drive: with constant talks about “should or shouldn’t elderly individuals be able to drive”, the autonomous vehicle will completely remove this barrier and allow nearly everyone to ‘drive’. The notion of L platers and P platers will be gone and the minimum age could be set by government.
5. Improving the sharing generation: with many experts identifying the younger generations as the sharing generation the driverless car could offer them a unique sharing experience. It is estimated that privately owner cars are parked 90 per cent of their life, this means cars could be shared when the car isn’t in use for one individual.
Self-driving cars will cut the road toll by 80 per cent
7. The rise of electronic vehicles: the adoption of autonomous vehicles could drastically improve the likelihood of the adoption of fully electric cars. With the autonomous vehicles creating more light weight vehicles, this could increase the travel distance of a single battery, resulting in a decrease in fuel consumption.
There are number concerns/disadvantages of autonomous cars:
- Loss of jobs: The biggest concern of self-driving cars is the negative effects on numerous industries. The self-driving car will lower the demand in industries such as public transport and private transport (such as Taxis). Companies such as Uber have already suggested that it could potentially flip its business on its head by eliminating the need for ‘freelance’ drivers. The switch would see autonomous vehicles take the place of drivers and really only require maintenance and technological crew for behind the scenes. It would nearly eliminate the workforce and put hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs.
- Legal changes: with the introduction of a new form of technology, government will have to set new laws to do with privacy and safety features for all vehicles. Some governments are already stating that autonomous vehicles must be able to have the ability to be human controlled.
- Privacy infringements: With the car being controlled by GPS navigation, does this lessen user’s privacy. Will companies be able to track people’s locations? How much of the data will be stored? How much of it will be shared?
- Self-learning computer uprising: The other concern is a bit of a novelty concern, but many people believe that it could actually occur. For most Sci-Fi nerds the fear of Skynet (from Terminator) is ever present whenever control is passed from human to machine. Skynet is based on the premise that computers began to teach itself and blocked out human control as it humans were deemed inefficient. This argument will continuously be brought up in the future as more mundane jobs and chores are completed by autonomous robots and computer systems.
Can you think of any other ways self-driving cars will change your life?