Car manufacturers and tech firms have invested billions of pounds and countless work hours developing autonomous vehicles. Human error is listed as one of the leading cause of road accidents; so, eliminating or assisting the driver seems like a viable solution to road safety. Besides safety, driverless cars present a host of benefits including, efficient road usage and fuel consumption. But, is the world ready to accommodate self-driving cars on the road, or is the concept ahead of its time?
Where are we with autonomous technology?
It’s remarkable how far driverless car technology has come in just a few years. Leading pioneers such as Uber, Tesla, Toyota and Google are already field-testing fully autonomous prototypes. The technology has made impressive leaps, but it still has a long way to go. Several critical areas still need drastic improvements. For instance, there is a need for more reliable sensor systems, faster real-time communication between components, and more powerful AI and machine learning resources for faster response.
However, the onset of the much faster 5G wireless network, and advancements in automation technology show promise in resolving some of these limitations. Self-driving cars also have to work hand-in-hand with other smart peripheral systems such as intelligent traffic lights, which are slowly being implemented with the idea of smart cities.
Is society ready for self-driving vehicles?
Eventually, driverless technology will mature and yield the desired results – it’s only a matter of time. The question that remains is whether road users, organisations, and legal systems are ready to adapt to driverless transport solutions. In a recent survey by the AA, only 23% of the 21,039 polled said they would trust a self-driving vehicle while they are in it. A majority of drivers want to maintain the driving culture and continue enjoying driving.
And this isn’t just in the UK either. Over the past few months, Uber and Google reported that road users were harassing their prototypes during field tests in different parts of the United States. Pedestrians and drivers expressed hostility towards the vehicles and some even pulled guns on them and slashed their tyres.
Unsurprisingly, traffic legislation and auto insurance policies will have to amend or include a few terms and regulations to describe accountability in case accidents involving driverless cars.
The world will eventually come around and accept driverless cars once they start populating the roads. The idea is not ahead of its time; there are just a few crucial concerns that need to be addressed before any massive rollouts.