The Independent

Should self-driving cars be used regularly?

Reagan Rude, Cutting Edge Writer

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The idea of an autonomous car, a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input, is no longer an idea that solely belongs to science fiction works such as I, Robot. Instead, it is now part of reality.

Self-driving cars work by combining different sorts of sensors and software to navigate and control the vehicle. Uber, for example, has developed its prototype that  uses sixty-four laser beams, along with other sensors, to construct its internal map. Additionally, Google’s prototypes have used several different devices, including lasers, high-powered cameras, radar and sonar. Then, similar to how nerves send signals to the brain, the software processes its surroundings and sends messages to the vehicle’s “actuators”, which control functions such as acceleration, braking, and steering.

 

Driverless cars have the opportunity to be very beneficial to our society. To begin, “Recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that approximately 94 percent of accidents are caused by human error,” said Alan Amici, a vice president of automotive engineering at TE.

The same study also revealed that approximately 33,000 deaths occur every year due to car crashes.  Because nearly all crashes are caused by the driver, removing the driver and replacing him with very advanced technology would hypothetically reduce the number of traffic crashes and deaths that occur. This shows that the different conditions that account for human error, such as drowsiness, anger and passenger distractions, do not apply to an autonomous car. Thus, these cars are safer and less likely to crash.

Another advantage to driverless vehicles would be that it would help to mobilize people who are unable to drive themselves, such as the elderly or disabled.

In addition, The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that bottlenecks and crashes account for 65 percent of all congestion. Decreasing that by even a small amount would drastically change our way of life.

Although there are many pros to the idea of self-driving cars, there are several cons worth considering as well. To begin, these vehicles would put millions of Americans employed in public transportation services, such as Uber, taxi and truck drivers, out of jobs. Also, due to all of the different sensors and advanced technology, these driverless cars would be far too expensive for most Americans. According to a calculation by the NHTSA, these vehicles would cost about $100,000. The high price would prevent many people from owning self-driving cars anyway, so any advantages would be not be available to the majority of the population.

Finally, there are many environmental concerns regarding these vehicles. If the cars were to be run on gasoline, then due to the increase in amount of people owning cars, such as the disabled and elderly, climate emissions and pollution rates could skyrocket.

Overall, autonomous cars are currently continuing to be developed, and have the prospect of changing our world of transportation forever. While there are still many different problems that developers will need to work to solve, it is likely that some day in the future that self-driving cars will be a part of normal everyday life, but it is uncertain as to whether these vehicles will do more harm than good. © toyota

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Should self-driving cars be used regularly?