Transportation of the Future
Transportation is at a critical and exciting stage right now that can potentially change the traditional way we get around. For the past several decades not much has changed in terms of how vehicles are made, until now. With Tesla and Google paving the way in autonomous vehicles, which means they drive themselves, many companies have begun testing self-driving cars such as Delphi, Bosche, Nissan, Uber, Mercedez-Benz, and Audi. With such a radical proposition to the way in which transportation is to progress there is much debate on the safety of these self-driving vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles (AV) are based on a scale of 0-4. 0 having no autonomous functions, and 4 being fully autonomous. As of now, we are currently seeing level 1 and level 2 vehicles being tested on roadways. However, these vehicles do not react the way that human drivers do and have hard times turning left into oncoming traffic, along with not being able to drive in heavy rain or snow.
So Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
Others defend the idea of self-driving vehicles and use plenty of statistics and research to back their claims. Consider the economic and social benefits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) autonomous cars would reduce the rate of car accidents significantly every year. Around 32,675 people died in car accidents in 2014 with 90% of them having been caused by human error behind the wheel. Autonomous vehicles could save the country almost $400 billion in total annual costs of accidents. If roads had 100% self-driving vehicles on it, there would, in theory, be a reduction of almost 95-99.99% in total fatalities and injuries on the road.
With human error erased from the equation, autonomous vehicles would also reduce the rate of traffic and congestion on the roads since cars would be able to travel at higher speeds and closer to each other and decrease time spent travelling while also increasing productivity. Therefore the question is not whether cars will be too expensive to purchase but if we as a society are ready to get rid of owning cars.
No More Owning a Car?
According to Hagemann, we may end up not needing to buy cars at all and instead subscribe to an autonomous vehicle ride-sharing service that may be potentially offered by companies like Google and Uber. The urban transit pod is similar to this idea and is already planned to hit the streets in Milton Keynes just outside of London. The pods seat one person and can move on their own over a pre-described route. It will have a built-in wireless hotspot so you can check emails, call a friend or play a game. Abu Dhabi already has similar pods along with the London Heathrow Airport, however, both are in tightly controlled areas and are not sufficient to base an assumption.
It seems there is a lot to look forward to in terms of transportation within our near future. Although some believe we will start seeing these self-driving cars on the road within the next few years others have argued that we are still far from it as there is still the obstacle of integration and the acceptance of both the people and the government.