An autonomous car, also known as robotic cars, self-driving car, auto car and driverless vehicle, as the name implies, is an autonomous vehicle that has the capability to perform all functions related to everyday driving, parking, and commuting. It is a technology that senses the environment and upon entering the destination, navigates its way without human interference.
We have all seen what autonomous vehicles are capable of doing in the movies and just like any other technology has its own benefits. An increase in the use of autonomous technology could also make possible a wide array of potential benefits. Other than the comfort and convenience of a virtual chauffeur at your service, there are some other advantages. These include:
REDUCED RUNNING AND MAINTENANCE COSTS
Since autonomous technology will be running on a ‘computerized brain’, monitoring vehicle health would not be a problem. The technology will be able to rapidly detect engine, brakes, or any other vehicle problems and facilitate preventative maintenance. Additionally, it will allow for optimal vehicle operating parameters, thus reducing fuel costs because the vehicle will remain idle for lesser time.
CONTROLLABLE AND HIGHLY EFFICIENT PERFORMANCE
Simultaneous monitoring of surrounding objects, vehicles, and other factors will allow for better vehicle performance. The technology can also allow users to remotely adjust speeds, thus increasing fuel efficiency. Additionally, it will even provide ‘just in time’ scheduling for pick-up and delivery, thus reducing vehicle downtime. Better coordination with other vehicles also tends to reduce running costs.
IMPROVEMENT IN OVERALL SAFETY
Since autonomous systems will have a faster reaction time and increased reliability as compared to human drivers, there will be fewer traffic collisions. Additionally, autonomous technology will be able to efficiently monitor important data, such as speed, distance, time, and location. It results in a much smoother, comfortable and safer drive.
There might even be a reduction in car theft because of the vehicles’ self-awareness features. Overall, autonomous technology will be able to reduce the space required for parking, physical road signage, the need for vehicle insurance and traffic police. Moreover, since autonomous vehicles can drive themselves, it wouldn’t matter if the driver is unlicensed, intoxicated, blind, overage or even underage.
Autonomous vehicles will be using a GPS system along with an inertial navigation system that will decide the shortest routes to take the passengers to their specific destination. Therefore, this allows users to carry out their daily commuting much easily and faster. Autonomous vehicles may even be able to tackle various environmental conditions, such as heavy rainfall, more efficiently. And this reduces the likelihood of being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
There are many imperative details and obstacles that still need to be cleared for autonomous vehicles to be safe. Not to mention, despite the various benefits of autonomous vehicles, there are many foreseeable challenges that need to be sorted as well. These include:
o Interruptions in GPS or vehicle’s communication could shut down the autonomous system and this may increase risks of accidents.
o If the system malfunctions and situations arise that required manual driving, what will inexperienced drivers do?
o Driverless technologies are quite expensive. Therefore, not many people will be able to afford them when released.
o Driving enthusiasts may not find the whole concept of driverless technology appealing and may refuse to forfeit control of their vehicles.
o Autonomous technology might not be able to function perfectly under severe weather conditions. The system may freeze, thus creating risks of potential collisions.
o For autonomous cars to function properly, high-quality specialized maps would need to be prepared. These maps would be highly costly to produce worldwide.
o No matter how safe the technology is, there will always be concerns regarding software and hardware malfunctions that could increase the risk of accidents rather than decrease it.
o The implementation of driverless technologies would be catastrophic for the economy. Think about the number of taxi drivers worldwide. They could all find themselves out of work.
o Driverless technologies might not be able to respond correctly to traffic police.
As you can see, there are many challenges and obstacles that have to be overcome before the technology can be made available to the general public. This raises a simple question for many: would people actually ride in driverless cars?