Self- driving cars use to be a farfetched idea but now that they are here, so what does this mean for society as we know it? Will it be the next big thing for transportation or just a fad that will come and go? 11 minor crashes have been caused by Google’s driverless cars. So the question that remains is when will the autonomous vehicles be ready (Ghose, 2015).
Shladover, a researcher at the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology at the University of California, Berkeley, stated that getting to the level of taking children to school without parents r taking a handicapped person or someone with a disability to a medial appointment, is many decades away (Ghose, 2015). This paper will analyze the issues of self- driving cars and their technology. Technological factors, passenger safety, and the effect these self- driving cars will have on transportation are all issues that will be address and must be solved before these self- driving cars hit the roadways.
Background In 2010, Google announced their Self- driving Car Project and in 2012 a fantasy became a reality, we got our first look at the new Google driverless car. It came with a wheel that was removable and an accelerator and brake pedal in the event that the human driver would have to take over. The technology is so sophisticated that it can safely navigate through and tell the difference between people, cars, bicyclists, signs, and traffic lights. It understands the rules of the road and even waits seconds after a red light has turned green before proceeding.
The reaction time of these computers are much quicker than a human driver, plus they do not get distracted or drowsy, they do not drink and drive, use illegal substances, and they do not run ed lights or tailgate other cars on the road (Jaconi, 2015). This technology is many years and or decades away from being completely ready to hit the roads. And although there are many benefits due to the use of this technology, there are also many drawbacks that need to be address which is why many people are questioning the use of these self- driving vehicles.
Issues A failure in this driverless technology could occur due to the condition of roadway markings and the weather, as well as a faulty Global Positioning Systems. Additionally, passenger safety needs to be taken into consideration because although it can elp decrease the amount of car accidents that occur, there is a high probability that this vehicle will one day be able to collected data that hackers may be able to access. Lastly, this technology will essentially allow for better flowing traffic and decrease the amount of congestion on the road.
Plus it may one day be able to transport people without a human driver need, but in the end that means jobs will be taken away from public transportation people. Technological Factors Although self- driving cars have so much technology and many benefits, advancement in the technology is still require in order or it to overcome certain failures in the technology. For example, the condition of roadway markings, the accuracy of GPS mapping systems and weather conditions.
The condition of roadway markings pose a high cost for automaker and a threat for passengers in these autonomous cars. According to the U. S. Department of transportation about 65% of U. S. roads are in poor condition. The poor markings and uneven signs on more than 3 million miles of roadways are forcing manufacturers to develop more innovative and sophisticated sensors and maps to overcompensate for the subpar infrastructure (Sage, 2016). To avoid a technological failure, extra sensors, maps and data need to be added to these cars.
This will unfortunately will add to the cost. If the extra cost is not spent on perfecting this software, passengers will be at risk. It either comes down to spending money on fixing every roadway across America or increasing the cost to produce one of these vehicles. Having the infrastructure for these cars to drive on is just as imperative as the accuracy of GPS mapping systems. Almost everyone that has used their car’s navigational system or their phones GPS and ave been taken down a road that led them to a dead end.
Therefore the key to these self- driving cars relies on the precision of these maps. Lastly, although the GPS may express a rough estimate of the location of the car, the lasers and cameras on the car monitor what is going on around the car, in a 360 gree view. Therefore with the laser and cameras monitoring the cars surroundings, the condition of the weather is another technological factor that needs to be addressed when creating this software. Google’s self- driving cars are said to understand the difference between when it is drizzling and hen it is pouring.
When the weather conditions are extreme, the car will simply pull over automatically and wait out the storm. As of now, this technology is not capable of operating in heavy rain because it can cause damage to the laser sensors on top of the vehicle. Therefore if there was a glitch or the weather does not let up, the drivers needs to have the ability and necessary skill on how to operate the self- driving car safely if need be. Passenger Safety When creating a self- driving vehicle, the safety of the passengers inside the car should be one of the major priorities or the manufacturers to consider.
Although this car could one day decrease or prevent the number of car accidents all together, they may also one day have the ability to transport people who are otherwise incapable of driving. Problems that should be address when it comes to passenger safety is comforting people who may be scared to use the technology because they think it is “spying” on them and they need to find ways to prevent hackers from hacking the software and overriding the system. With the future of technology advancing everyday this self- driving car could one day be able to transport eople.
With the hopes that driverless cars could help decrease the number of car accidents altogether, when it comes to passenger safety, it is imperative that this technology works perfectly. Self- driving vehicles could be the next step toward being a designated driver for inebriated people who need a safe way to get home. Therefore it could help eliminate the number of drunk driving incidents. Also these driverless cars can give handicapped and/or people with disabilities the ability to travel without depending on someone else. 81% of car crashes are due to human error.
The leading cause of these crashes are caused by distractions (Auto Insurance Center, 2016). The use of self- driving technology has the ability to eliminate this danger all together because these vehicles do not get distracted. But they do not completely remove the possibility of a car accident. They have the ability to calculate precise speed and stopping distance which helps decrease the chances of a car accident. As of now if a self- driving car were to get into a car accident, there is no legal precedent for handling this situation.
So the questions that remains is who is responsible for the occurrence Auto Insurance Center, 2016)? A second factor to consider when it comes to passenger safety is the interference of hackers. With this the self- driving car technology becoming more and more popular, the interest in meddling with it will become of high interest to hackers. It could even be possible for hackers to one day be able to remotely control this software with the touch of a button. By chance, if a hacker where to override the self- driving car and create a malfunction, the passenger will be at risk.
Additionally, because tons of information is stored within this software, people are concerned ith handing over all the power to a computer and are worried that it will start to collect personal information for hackers to access. It may one day be able to know your preferences just by checking you emails and messages and identifying key words. Plus as this software becomes more advanced it may one day be able to predict your transportation habits. And because it needs to know where it is and where it’s going, you will constantly be surveillance by the software.
Transportation Factors General Motors recently acquired Cruise Automation, which is a maker of driverless cars. GM’s executive vice-president, Mark Reuss, stated that the company’s acquisition of Cruise will provide the company with a unique technological advantage (Thielman, 2016). Shortly after they acquired the self- driving car software firm, Cruise Automation, they introduced their short term car rental joint venture with Lyft, a ride hailing service (Raman, 2016).
GM is trying to redefine the future of personal mobility. Their end game: “a network of self- driving cars within Lyft’s service that can shuttle passengers around town without a driver” (Primack, 2016). The self- driving technology could lead o a great competitive advantage for General Motors but the some of the problems that this self- driving vehicle could create are taking away jobs for people who already drive vehicles to transport people. As well there are some ethical issues that the software must be coded for.
The upside to this technology though is that is does offer passengers in this car to occupy their time with other things and could help relieve the amount congestion on the road during high flowing traffic hours. When a self- driving car takes the wheel, its passengers then have the ability to focus their attention on other activities such as leeping, reading, talking on the phone and or to the people in the vehicle. I must admit I have studied for an exam on my way to school and all my attention was not focused on the road.
I placed my study placed my study guide in front of the wheel and would look down every couple feet. Fortunately, I made it to school safely but l put myself and the people in the cars around me at risk. In the near future if more people adopt the use of self- driving cars, then the flow of traffic and congestion on the road is bound to be improved. These cars will have the ability to communicate with each other and help prevent accidents. Additionally, they will have the ability to travel closer together which allows for more cars on the road.
In the near future it may even be possible to have you car drop you off at the front of a building and go park on its own. Unfortunately, unless everyone decides to opt in to use this technology none of these benefits can occur. Something to consider when it comes to being transported by a computer are ethical issues. The safety issues associate with these driverless cars are creating huge concerns for lawmakers because they do not know how to regulate these cars.
We are putting all our trust and faith in these vehicles to careful transport us from point A to point B and if somet were to go wrong how the car would react? An actual person would need to make a split second decision whether hitting what’s on the right or left of you is better. Therefore a computer software must understand how to weigh these options and be able to come up with a solution. Are we really ready to let a car make a decision during a life threatening situation for us, while we sit there and watch it decided between the two choices?
Regulations will soon be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles once self-driving cars become more common that will answer the question on everyone’s mind, whose would be at fault for a car accident and who would have to pay for the damages? When it comes to public transportation, the use of self-driving cars could one day begin to eliminate jobs. The safer driving conditions established by self-driving cars will reduce the number of accidents, which ultimately could reduce the need personal injury lawyers.
Additionally, like previously mentioned General Motors goal is to one day operate a passenger shuttling business without a driver. Therefore, the need for taxi, bus, Uber, and Lyft drivers will diminish which will negatively impact the unemployment rate. If driverless cars do become more popular, then Uber and Lyft can establish part of the app that allow self-driving cars to transport passengers. Therefore, if you were to have a driverless car, you could go to work and basically rent out your cars for the purpose hailing people and then have it pick you up at the end of your work day.