How Self-Driving Technology Is Shaping The Future Of Cars
Currently, the automotive industry is one of the frontrunners in terms of technology.
The interesting thing about this is that most of the tech starts out in Formula 1 or other motorsports. Teams in these sports try out the new tech, which ends up having a trickle-down effect on modern society. Some of the common car tech in vehicles today started out in F1 cars – like regenerative braking!
Modern cars are packed full of some of the best and most useful technology money can buy. A lot of it makes us safer, but there’s one particular technology that still causes quizzical looks. Yes, self-driving technology is a bit of a gray area for the automotive industry. The last few years have shown that so much money is being pumped into developing this tech. Google already has some self-driving cars in action, but should this really be the future of the automotive industry?
What I want to discuss is whether or not it’s a good idea to even bother with self-driving cars. The supposed benefit of self-driving vehicles is that they make the roads a safer place. According to Mitch Grissim and Associates, over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year, and another 2.35 million are injured or disabled. Self-driving technology is promoted as something that can reduce these numbers – but can it? Let’s look at how self-driving cars might reduce accidents, but also a few possible concerns…
Removing human error
Think about some of the most common causes of auto accidents right now:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Reckless driving
- Poor road conditions
- Bad weather
Of these causes, four of them are down to human error. It’s a simple fact that lots of car accidents are caused by drivers. Whether it’s a drunk driver or a perfectly sober one that drives like an idiot, people are the biggest threat to other people on the roads. So, in theory, self-driving cars can reduce accidents by removing human error.
Drunk driving, distracted driving, people falling asleep at the wheel, and reckless driving will all be nullified if the car drives itself. At least, this is the argument put forward by the geniuses in charge of developing this technology.
An overreliance on technology
The downside of removing human error is that we have to rely on technology more than ever before. Now, we allow computers and algorithms to do lots of things in life. Factories have used robots for years instead of humans, so why should we worry about relying on them in cars? Funnily enough, factories are a great example of why this could be an issue. You see, there are still humans in factories, standing by in case of tech errors – which there will almost always be. So, for self-driving cars to work, you need a human there to monitor things just in case. As such, you’re back to depending on the human, only this time they’re a passenger, not a driver. If the car malfunctions, you need the human to step in and take action. The trouble is, self-driving cars make people relax and not worry about what’s up ahead, so their reactions might not be fast enough to prevent a crash.
However, the biggest worry is a worry that exists throughout the tech world: hacking. Have any of you watched the TV series Upload? It’s set in the future where everyone uses self-driving cars, and two characters die because their self-driving vehicles are hacked, disabling safety protocols. While just a TV show, it goes some way to showing just how dangerous these cars could be. Hackers may find a way to break into a system, causing cars to malfunction and crash.
Consequently, while self-driving cars are supposed to prevent accidents, there’s a case for them creating more dangers on the roads. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure if the world needs self-driving cars anytime soon. Yes, technology is something to be savored, but it just doesn’t feel right to put so much trust in an algorithm. In theory, they should prevent loads of accidents by stopping things like drunk driving. The only issue is that this is just a theory. We will never truly know how safe or dangerous this technology is until lots of self-driving cars are on the roads. There is simply no way of testing them thoroughly enough to be 100% certain that all self-driving cars will be 100% safe.
This technology is something that’s best left in the sci-fi world. Instead of spending loads of money on self-driving car development, couldn’t we pump it back into other car tech – like electric vehicles and other ways of reducing pollution from road vehicles?