When we envision autonomous driving, many of us envision a world in which vehicles are able to navigate traffic without the driver and communicate with other cars and infrastructure.
Although technology can provide solutions to some of our transportation issues, it also has wider societal repercussions. We must take a comprehensive view of this technology and recognize both its positive and negative effects.
Autonomous driving offers road users a chance to improve safety by eliminating factors that cause accidents. In America alone, over 30,000 people die annually from motor vehicle traffic accidents caused by human error or poor decisions (NHTSA statistics). With autonomous technology on board, this could drastically improve safety on the road for all road users.
Road safety issues often stem from driver distraction. Autonomous cars could solve this issue by replacing humans with precision computer systems that operate the car’s controls.
However, self-driving vehicles remain vulnerable to other issues that could cause collisions. Heavy rain, fog or snow could impair a self-driving car’s sensors.
Although the safety implications of self-driving vehicles have yet to be fully appreciated, some concerns must be addressed before widespread adoption takes place. These include cybersecurity, reliability issues and system malfunctioning.
The future of autonomous driving promises a variety of environmental advantages, such as lower emissions and reduced air pollution. But they’ll also create additional driving and increase fuel consumption, so it will be essential to determine how we can use them safely without making the environment worse.
Autonomous vehicles are expected to reduce traffic congestion and enhance safety for passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. Computer systems possess faster reaction times than humans do, enabling them to handle emergencies with greater efficiency than humans can.
Driverless cars also give cities the ability to repurpose valuable land into green space and pedestrian zones, especially in places where housing is in short supply. This could have a major effect on land use.
Many are concerned with the future of mobility and how autonomous driving will shape society. Although the exact effects of automated vehicles on transportation remain largely uncharted territory, experts predict they will have significant effects on traffic congestion, fuel consumption, and land use.
Self-driving cars are expected to significantly reduce travel times, with some studies suggesting they could save travelers up to 50 minutes each day ([NHTS20]). This will enable people to reduce commute time and spend more quality time enjoying life.
Another potential impact of automated vehicles on transportation is their potential to reduce car accidents. This is because AVs will be able to observe and react faster than drivers do, leading to improved safety records.
Additionally, autonomous vehicles (AVs) could potentially communicate with other cars on the road, enabling them to drive closer together and reduce congestion and fuel costs.
Autonomous vehicles require a high level of cybersecurity to thwart malicious attacks and guarantee the safety of people and property while driving. Security also involves collecting personal data, such as information pertaining to their location and passengers.
As autonomous driving becomes more prevalent, it will become a priority to enact legislation with cyber security experts setting uniform safety standards across all vehicles. Doing this would protect autonomous vehicles from security breaches and help avoid incidents like the Jeep Cherokee being remotely hacked in 2015 by two cybersecurity researchers.
Hacked autonomous vehicles could be disabled or held for ransom, failing to recognize traffic signs and messages and even swerving out of its lane in an effort to avoid a collision. They could stall or malfunction, potentially resulting in serious harm for drivers and passengers alike.