The self-driving cars has long been a stalwart of the science fiction realm, however the reality of this vision has never been nearer. Google are ever closer to creating their own self-driving, and Telsa Motors have a program that is set to add a whole new dimension to the phrase “cruise control”.
However, already these developments are being met with questions. A lot of these questions centre around safety. Will these safe driving cars make the roads safer? How will the dominance of self-driving cars affect insurance rates?
Much of the anxiety surrounding self-driving cars is due to their novelty. Namely, in the early and developmental stages of this new technology, no one is actually sure of how safe it is to place our safety completely in a computer system. However, before being overly critical of this new technology, it is important to become aware of how safe we actually are presently.
The American body, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) have reported that of all the accidents which occur, 94% can be attributed to human error. These factors range from lapses in judgements to using a phone whilst driving, making it hard for other drivers to anticipate the actions of their contemporaries. The fatalities resulting from these accidents is astounding. In the US alone, 19,000 people were killed as a result of road accidents during the first half of 2015.
In the light of this, self-driving cars are seen as a potential means of making the roads safer. Should fully automated cars be manufactured, a process that is still a long way off, it will without a doubt make the roads safer. Cars would be able to communicate with each other, completely removing the chance of driver judgement errors. Another benefit would be a decrease in the level of congestion.
How close are we presently to the realisation of a completely self-driving vehicle fleet? The Tesla CEO Elon Musk, perhaps one of the greatest authorities on the subject recently revealed that the company was as close as just three years to the completion of creating the fully self- driving car. However, Musk revealed the issue would be the volume of cars on the road, “There’s 2 billion of them.” He said, “So if tomorrow all cars were self-driving or autonomous, it would take 20 years to fully replace the fleet.”
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