Driverless Cars - the future of automobiles?
Old movies like Back to the Future or TV series Knight Rider presented futuristic scenarios featuring flying or even talking cars. While outside of the movies we may not be quite there yet, we are however taking a huge leap in the automobile industry with our latest breakthrough sensation – the robo-car.
Yes, the robo-car. They are the vehicles built with their very own ‘brain’. However, unlike our organically compounded human brain, their artificial intelligence is formed through advanced automotive technology. While we won’t go into too much detail regarding the mechanism of the driverless vehicle, Google, a major driver in this field, uses technology such as a lidar sensor (Light Detection And Ranging), video camera, radar, and a position estimator to revolutionise the driver-free automobile. By October last year, Google had tested their fleet of autonomous vehicles by driving a grand 230, 000 kms without any incidents.
Other major companies trying their hand in developing and testing self-navigating vehicles include Eureka, VIAC, Volkswagen, General Motors and Audi.
In 2008, Vice President of General Motors announced they are planning to test driverless vehicles by 2015 and may be on the roads by around 2018. So it seems driverless vehicles may be a reality within the decade!
While all this sounds very fascinating, one has to ask - what is the future going to be like with roads being driver free?
The first thing which comes to mind is the drastic reduction in jobs. Taxi drivers, chauffers, and even bus drivers stand to face unemployment in the future if driverless vehicles take off.
On the other hand, companies with fleets may well be able to find many benefits from owning a driverless vehicle. Apart from initial costs, we’ve briefly thought out the major pros and cons from owning a fleet of autonomous vehicles. If there’s any important points we’ve missed, feel free to add a comment below and we’ll gladly take it on board!
1. Reduces travel time
If your business involves making long trips or overnight deliveries, a driverless vehicle will be able to drive by itself without any food breaks, or sleep breaks a driver of a normal car would usually require.
2. Reduces driver accidents
Corresponding with the point above, many accidents are caused by driver distractions, or in many cases, sleep deprivation. By eliminating the driver, we also remove the distractions which come with the driver who is, let’s say, sleep deprived from an overnight delivery.
1. Job losses
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This could be bad for the economy; while also creating bad public relations for any company when they cut jobs.
2. Initial high costs
Look at when LCD or Plasma TV’s first came out – prices were incredibly high, but as time went by, prices slowed down. This is called price-skimming. When the first few driverless cars come out, prices will be sky-high. So, if you are one of those early adopters, you might face high starting prices for one of these innovated creations.