Automotive

Common Driving Dilemmas Solved by Driverless Cars

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Most people don’t think twice about getting in a car and driving to their destination. Driving has become so integral to modern life that you probably don’t consider all the minor aggravations stirred by using cars to get from here to there, let alone the major dangers of piloting a many-ton vehicle at breakneck speeds.

However, the truth is that allowing individual drivers to control their own cars is neither efficient nor truly safe. Instead, we should be leveraging technology to make driving better in almost every way — and already, tech companies and automakers are working together to make that a reality. If you are on the fence about whether to embrace driverless cars and related advanced robot technology, read on to learn what these tools can do to improve transportation in the coming years.

Lower Costs

Contrary to most consumers’ belief, automated cars are unlikely to be personal possessions. It might be difficult to imagine a world where you don’t own your own car, but the truth is that autonomousness opens up a world of opportunity for shared fleets of vehicles, much like ridesharing or carsharing — and believe it or not, this is a good thing for your wallet.

The average car spends 95 percent of its lifetime parked. Unfortunately, during that entire time, you are paying out the nose for insurance, registration, maintenance, fuel and other ongoing costs to ensure your vehicle runs when you need it to. Plus, you also pay the exorbitant purchase price of the car, with the result that your expenses over the lifetime of the vehicle will rise to the high tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands for luxury cars.

By participating in a shared, driverless car program, you eliminate nearly all those expenses, paying instead a basic monthly fee. In fact, as more fleets emerge thanks to enhanced tech from companies like Zurich Connected Cars, competition will drive prices for driverless transportation even lower. That means you and millions of other vehicle owners have more available cash, which is never a bad thing.

Less Traffic

The average American commuter spends 97 hours per year stuck in traffic, which over a lifetime amounts to more than five months wasted. Traffic jams are largely the result of driving inefficiency, with some drivers moving too fast, some drivers moving too slow, some drivers weaving and some drivers crashing. These are errors that derive directly from human behavior — and they simply don’t occur when robots are controlling the wheel. 

For one, driverless cars are programmed to be safer (more on that later), so they all cruise at the speed limit, change lanes slowly and carefully and generally make maneuvers that shouldn’t disrupt traffic. However, perhaps more importantly, as roadways fill with driverless vehicles, it is likely that cars will begin to talk to one another, improving efficiency to an even greater extent. While there will still be plenty of vehicles on the road, you probably won’t ever get stuck in bumper-to-bumper gridlocks when robots drive.

Less Damage, Injury and Death

Around the world, about 3,287 people die in road crashes every day — and an additional 20 to 50 million are injured, many to the point of severe disability. Though it is inconvenient to view vehicles as weapons or dangerous tools on par with guns, the truth is that cars are responsible for much more death and destruction than firearms. That’s not to say that gun control isn’t a positive movement; rather, it should draw your attention to a flaw in believing that motor vehicles are safe.

As with traffic, collisions and crashes are caused primarily by human error: driving intoxicated, tailgating, speeding, not checking mirrors, not using seatbelts and other risky behaviors. Robot cars are programmed to avoid this driving behavior and journey from Point A to Point B as safely as possible. Though detractors like to bring up ethical dilemmas concerning driverless cars (heard of the trolley problem?) the truth is that deploying autonomous vehicles ASAP will save millions of lives over the coming years.

It is natural to have concerns about any new technology, especially one that promises to change the world so significantly. However, when it comes to robot cars, the good significantly outweighs the bad. You should eagerly await the days when driverless vehicles outnumber human drivers — which could be as soon as the upcoming decade.

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