6 Myths about Driverless Cars Debunked
With the latest technology developments and so many huge tech companies working on the idea of self-driving cars, we’re only a few years away from seeing the first working models on the streets. Still, there may take a while for the population to accept the idea of entrusting their lives into the hands of artificial intelligence and machines!
Even the most developed countries may have to go through a transition phase, because people are not convinced the systems are ready to face the real-world just yet. Furthermore, the internet and media managed to create myths that undermine the idea of a self-driving car without human supervision. So, if you want to be well-informed when it comes to autonomous vehicles, be on the lookout for the following myths.
#1: Autonomous Cars will be the same as Regular Cars
Many believe that autonomous cars will be regular cars with sensors and an AI brain that will tell them how to drive. However, the future may be completely different, and the ownership of a vehicle may become obsolete.
Companies like Uber, BMW, and more invest in fleets of self-driving vehicles in order to create a new concept called shared driving. This means that the company will own the car and the final user will only summon it whenever they need it.
If you look at the problem objectively, our regular cars spend most of the time in the garage at work or at home (unless your job requires a lot of driving). With an autonomous vehicle, other people could make use of its services while you don’t need it. This would reduce the number of cars on the road and would solve the parking issue in big cities.
Furthermore, the final user will no longer have to worry about maintenance, repairs, and other expensive services that nowadays come with the car.
#2: Our Cities won’t Change
Right now, our cities are shaped to accommodate vehicles of most shapes and sizes, and pedestrians have to share their daily lives with noisy, polluted streets that pose a threat to their lives. However, once we’ll start to have more autonomous cars on the roads, the face of our cities will change for the better.
First, we won’t need that many parking spaces in residential areas because cars will no longer belong to each individual. The car will drop you off at home and will move on to pick up other passengers while you move on with your life.
Furthermore, we won’t need that many street signs and traffic lights, which means more visibility for pedestrians. Also, we may have more parks, promenade areas, and more space for pedestrians, which will completely change our urban landscape.
#3: The Design of Cars Won’t Change Much
If we consider the fact that today’s cars are designed to accommodate a human driver and several passengers, when the need for human assistance will no longer exist, cars’ design will change to be more comfortable on the inside and more aerodynamic on the outside.
We may no longer see the standard shape we’re used to right now, as autonomous cars won’t need a front and back. The front could become the back and vice-versa at any time, to accommodate a swifter ride.
Still, we believe we’ll continue to have plates, and most of them will be personalized, showcasing the company owning the vehicle. While plates may not follow the same standard like here, they should still be readable by a machine. Furthermore, we may see electronic plates in action, where cars communicate by displaying messages and sending signals, bumper to bumper.
#4: Self-Driving Cars Will Be Available Someday In The Future
Actually, we are a couple of years away from having the first fleets of autonomous cars driving around in the biggest cities in the world. Right now, companies like Uber, Apple, BMW, and others have working models that they test with human passengers.
We also have the first accidents involving self-driving cars, which is not something to brag about, but proves the technology is working. Most automakers want to launch their first Level 3 autonomous cars by 2020 and 2021, so the future is a lot closer than you’d expect.
#5: Decreased Levels of Pollution
This is a huge pro for self-driving cars, but it will only work if governments all over the world will work on encouraging people to switch to electric cars. Right now, most self-driving cars are designed to be electric, but if the infrastructure doesn’t support such a vehicle, car makers will go back to burning fossil fuel.
Furthermore, an autonomous vehicle will be driving a lot more than a regular one does, so we may end up with more air pollution than current levels in the near future.
#6: Safety will be a Huge Issue
One of the main concerns people have right now about self-driving cars is safety. How can we trust a mindless vehicle to transport us and our children without going haywire?
The sad part is that 90% of the accidents happening today are caused by human error. The human brain is not designed to pay attention to the road and notice even the slightest change in traffic conditions for hours on end. Even more, 40% of the fatal crashes happen because alcohol, fatigue, or drugs, so submitting control of cars to machines may be the best thing for our lives.
Self-driving vehicles will be able to communicate with each other, to avoid collisions. They will follow traffic rules, and will be able to maintain a safe distance in between vehicles. Not to mention that speed will be adapted to traffic conditions, regardless of the fact that you’re in a hurry or not.
We mentioned we had the first accidents involving autonomous vehicles. As it turns out, in most cases, it wasn’t the cars’ fault – human drivers ignored the rules and the self-driving vehicle didn’t have the time and space to react.
Safety may be an issue in terms of cyber-criminality, but once the system is fully functional and we only have Level 5 cars on roads, the number of traffic accidents and deaths will go way down. However, Level 3 cars may bring more accidents than standard cars, because they create a false feeling of safety for the driver.