We’ve already covered what autonomous driving is. Now, let’s take a look how this futuristic world of self-driving cars will benefit society in more ways than one.
Often times, there is fear associated with a fully autonomous world. Humans are scared of technology taking over and don’t want to give up control. However, the fact that autonomous vehicles improve safety should not be understated. A 2015 study by the US Department of Transportation NHTSA attributed 94% of accidents to human error, with only 2% to vehicular malfunction, 2% to environmental factors and 2% to unknown causes. By removing people from the driving equation, we remove the large potential for human error, and can expect an incredible leap in safety. Fewer accidents. Fewer injuries. Fewer fatalities. Thus, autonomous vehicles should not be feared, but rather celebrated. This increase in safety also further reduces the pressure and cost of secondary factors such as emergency and medical services, government roadway management and beyond.
Just as humans are the leading cause of accidents, we are also the main reason for traffic. It just takes one person slamming on their brakes or cutting someone off on a busy highway to cause a traffic jam, with ripple effects that could last for miles. Autonomous vehicles would run on a network, communicating with other autonomous cars to determine the best, most efficient routes. Cars would no longer be controlled by individuals, but rather would all work together as a unit, moving as one, getting rid of unnecessary brake slamming and traffic jams.
You’ve made it to where you’re going, but now the challenge is finding a parking spot. Especially if you live in a large metropolitan city where parking lots aren’t that common, this can be a nightmare and sometimes takes as long as the drive itself. But, wait. Your car can drive itself without you even being in it. That means that your car can drop you off at the entrance of work or the grocery store or wherever you are going, and then park itself. You don’t even have to be present. Further, because humans don’t have to worry about getting in and out of the car in tight parking spaces, cars can park extremely close together to maximize the number of vehicles that can fit in one parking lot.
More Free Time
Still not sold on how the amazing world of autonomous vehicles will benefit you? With less traffic and more convenient parking, think about how much shorter and efficient your commute will be. You can sleep in longer in the mornings and get home earlier for dinner in the evenings, or have more free time for whatever you feel like you’re missing out on because of your long, stressful commute. Not only would you be spending less time in your car every day, but because your car can drive itself, you will also have free time during your commute to maybe read the morning paper on the way to work, rather than before. Or, think about how much you can do on a long road trip when you don’t have to worry about actually controlling the car. The possibilities are endless! The point is that with autonomous vehicles, you will have more free time, both inside and outside of your car. If time is money, then we’ll all be a little bit richer in the world of full autonomy.
Last, but certainly not least, self-driving cars will be extremely helpful in reducing CO2 emissions and global warming. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, in the United States, the petroleum-dependent transportation sector is responsible for about 33% of the nation’s climate changing emissions. About 15% of all global CO2 emissions comes from transportation. Many autonomous vehicle manufacturers, such as General Motors and Tesla, believe that self-driving cars should be completely electric, meaning zero emissions. This would reduce one third of America’s annual CO2 emissions! Other companies, like Ford, are making the push for hybrid self-driving cars, which still would have some global warming effects, but not nearly as much as on the road right now. Even with cars still partially running on gasoline, autonomous vehicles would have the capacity to maximize fuel efficiency, and minimize harmful emissions, reducing both climate change and air pollution.
Less accidents. Less stress. More free time. Good for the environment. Seems pretty great to me. I personally can’t wait for this world of fully autonomous driving to arrive.
Written by Bria Rosenberg, Intern at VIA Technologies, Inc.