Many consider Google being the forefather of autonomous vehicles.
However, experiments with self-driving cars have been made ever since the 1920’s. The first vehicle of its kind was developed in the late 80’s by Carnegie Mellon University’s Navlab. It was filled with hardware and impaired from software limitations, but still managed to achieve a hefty 20 miles per hour top speed.
Granted, the autonomous vehicle has evolved in many ways since then. While adoption rate isn’t yet as high as car manufacturers would like, self-driving cars are influencing the world as we know it.
How significant will the change ultimately be? Read on to find out.
Car Ownership May Lose Its Appeal for Our Kids
As of now, Millennials want to own a car. It’s a trait of the generation and a vehicle gives us freedom of mobility. But all that may change in the next 20 years or so.
If you follow the industry news, you can see that nearly all car manufacturers are developing their own self-driving cars. Transportation network company Uber and Lyft are pushing towards driverless mobility as well.
So the idea that our children will no longer find the concept of owning a car appealing isn’t so far-fetched. It will no longer be a need and it might even mean unnecessary trouble. Additionally, car sharing would mean a decrease in traffic jams and generate more free parking spots.
Self-Driving Cars Could Make Driving a Thing of The Past
Computers don’t get drunk. They don’t fall asleep and they don’t get distracted.
It means computers could eventually be considered far better drivers than humans. When that happens, would it be absurd for humans to lose their right to drive?
On average, there are around 3,000 deaths each day because of car crashes. Naturally, it’s not the cars that are responsible, but human drivers.
Take Google’s self-driving cars, on the other hand. They have driven 2 million miles on public roads so far and have been involved in just one accident where the computer was at fault.
Even Elon Musk pointed out driving could become a thing of the past when humanity understands the benefits of driverless vehicles.
Of course, change is not always easy to accept and implement. When the airbag came out nobody wanted it in their car. But it’s everywhere now, isn’t it?
Former U.S. President Barack Obama shares a similar point of view on driverless vehicles:
Traffic Would Be Transformed Beyond Recognition
What would happen if all cars on public roads could communicate with each other? Would there be a need for traffic lights anymore? No.
In fact, traffic lights are somewhat outdated and their only purpose is to help human drivers coordinate better.
On the other hand, ride sharing will help humanity eliminate about 90% of current vehicles from the road. It would mean we could achieve the ultimate level of efficiency in transportation.
It also means humanity would be able to decrease the levels of pollution. Especially since most self-driving cars aren’t running on gas.
Not Every Change Would be Perceived as Positive
Granted, there are a few aspects which concern many people.
For starters, autonomous vehicles would record everything. While it might be a good thing, it also means they will constantly track everyone’s location. It won’t affect just passengers but pedestrians as well.
Self-driving cars will also affect jobs. Think about it this way: if there are no human drivers on the road, there would be no accidents, no law-breaking. So would we still need human traffic police officers? No, because they will serve no purpose.
Driverless cars also threaten to eliminate the taxi driver. There are around 17 million of them worldwide. That would mean 17 million fewer jobs. Add to this number the amount of bus drivers and even truck drivers and the final job deficit is getting a bit alarming.
Let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, go ahead and subscribe to my weekly newsletter on self-driving cars and all things about the mobility of the future.