Are self-driving cars the step forward we really need?
A lot has been done towards the development of the self-driving car. They will make travelling to work easier in the future and could make the roads infinitely safer as a network of collaborative and constantly learning AI is in control of the majority of vehicles.
However, self-driving cars won’t solve all of the problems of the road, and might not even be necessary. Here are a few of the issues with self-driving cars going forwards.
AI isn’t perfect
Although AI is becoming increasingly advanced and intelligent as time goes on, it’s still far from infallible. You might teach an AI all of the rules of the road, how it should behave in specific scenarios and even what it should do in dangerous situations, but there will always be unprecedented and unplanned events that an AI can’t anticipate.
For example, if a tyre gets a sudden puncture, or an oncoming car skips a red light, the AI won’t be prepared to react properly. In these cases, you’ll need a human override, and if a human still needs to pay full attention to the road at all times, they might as well be the driver.
Working from home
5G networks are relatively new and still undergoing installation across the globe, but as time goes on, it will become more integral to daily life, and make working from home significantly easier. The current crisis has demonstrated that a lot of work we assumed must be done from an office can actually be done from home, and a lot of people might just keep working from home from now on.
As remote work continues to become prominent, fewer and fewer people will need to commute. There will always be people that have a physical workplace, but advances in self-driving cars seem to be redundant if fewer people will be on the roads anyway.
Should we embrace self-driving cars?
Why would they be a more beneficial form of transport to regular cars?
They give us more time to be productive
As we’ve already mentioned above, more companies are turning to remote working. A good reason for this is to boost productivity levels, as people aren’t having to waste time commuting to work. While we often don’t think twice about it, many of us spend hours of the day commuting, which seems like a big waste.
With a self-driving car, you could get some work done on the commute. Or, you could catch up on a stimulating hobby or even some sleep, so you’re ready to be more productive by the time you reach the office.
They’d be more efficient
Self-driving cars will be connected to the 5G network through multiple IoT devices, using a navigation system to decide the quickest possible route. The cars that have already been designed include navigation software, allowing them to detect any delays and changing their route accordingly.
If everyone on the road had a self-driving car, travel would reach optimum efficiency – for example, there wouldn’t even be a need for traffic lights. Taxi and delivery services would also work at optimum speeds.
They’re better for the environment
It’s not a secret that transport is responsible for large proportions of pollution into the atmosphere. Although a self-driving car might emit some of these same fumes, their more efficient approach to driving would reduce congestion, which further reduces harmful emissions. Plus the majority of future self-driving cars are likely to be electric, meaning zero emissions.
Saving money in the long run
With more than 40 tech companies currently engaged in developing self-driving cars, it shouldn’t be long before autonomous vehicles are a regular sight on our roads. They will inevitably be more expensive to buy, however, expenses that quickly add up could soon be realised. There will be less accident-induced expense, and they have better fuel efficiency, meaning after the upfront cost, you’ll save money.
Will they make our lives better?
Despite the odd reports of autonomous vehicles being involved in road traffic collisions, data shows that ultimately, self-driving vehicles will make our roads a safer place to be. Driver error is still the main reason behind most fatal collisions on our roads, and this is in no small part down to speeding, lack of awareness, errors of judgement, drink driving and using a mobile phone.
Therefore, it is easy to see how self-driving vehicles can take human error out of the equation, thereby making roads safer, not only for car users but pedestrians and cyclists too.
Improve the daily commute
Self-driving cars can travel much closer together as there is no thinking time associated with breaking at speed. This is because AI technology is faster than the human brain, which has the benefit of shortening traffic queues.
Make parking easier
Another benefit of autonomous vehicles is their ability to park anywhere and then travel to pick up their user and drop them off. There will be no need to hunt for a parking space close to your home or place of business, and this is especially true for those people who choose not to buy their own self-driving vehicle but instead make use of autonomous and even flying taxis. This means that the land used to house large car parks can be put to better use.
New homes and business premises will have fewer parking spaces and more passenger drop-off and pick-up points as autonomous transport will become the new norm.