You get up in the morning, get dressed, have your breakfast and step out of your house. You go into your vehicle and set the destination. The vehicle automatically moves without you touching the steering wheel. Sounds like something from a sci fi novel. The fact is driverless cars are fast among us. Some companies are already planning on doing trials and this could set to expand. I always liked the idea of stepping into a vehicle and it takes you to the destination without you doing anything. But the fact is it is still some time away before truly driverless vehicles become a reality.
The first driverless cars are more likely to have a steering wheel and all the other features of a normal car and the driver has to place his/her hands on the steering wheel and pay close attention to the road ahead. Any problems detected and the driver takes control. Eventually driverless cars will be fully automated without the need for any interaction from the driver.
One of the main benefits on autonomous vehicles is the reduction of traffic collisions. Tailgating, rubbernecking, and aggressive driving are just some of the few potential driver errors. There is also the potential to minimize the need for parking spaces. However, there are also many obstacles to overcome. What happens if there is an accident? Will the driver be at fault or the system controlling the vehicle? This won’t be an easy question to answer but some insurance companies are already making plans to address this issue. Other issues include the driver losing experience due to not handling the vehicle therefore being unable to handle emergency situations where they must take control. An over reliance on technology can lead to less situational awareness and decline of driving skills. There is also the potential for job losses within the driving industry. Taxi drivers, goods drivers and even chauffeurs can be affected.
The value of driverless vehicles is that you can choose to be either the driver or a passenger. Many people like driving but if it is a long-distance commute, then maybe playing the role of a passenger will be more suitable.
When commuting on a train you can always do some work on your laptop but never while you are driving to work. This can all change with driverless cars. Imagine taking an hour to commute to work and then imagine if you could do some office work during that hour while your car is driving on its own. That is two office man hours per day.
Driverless cars have the potential to revolutionize the driving industry and the way we travel. But there are many potential technological, legislative, economic and social challenges that must be dealt with before driverless vehicles become the norm on our roads. Areas from insurance, MOT, driving licenses, maintenance and even the Highway Code must be modified to accommodate for this new breed of vehicle.
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