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The Rise of Autonomous Cars

Posted in auto industry, Car Tech, Traffic by Frank | October 22nd, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Just when the lightening speed of technological advancement seemed incapable of increasing, news of the autonomous car began circulating. While it sounds like something right out of a science fiction story, skeptics must remember that much of technology today began as a dream.

The autonomous car is just that: a car that “thinks” and acts on its own. While still in the developmental stages, autonomous cars are fast gaining traction in the world of today.

Currently, every state except Nevada has outlawed driverless cars. Those in favor of the cars, such as the scientists and engineers developing them, point out that robot cars can monitor 360 degrees at the same time, and are not distracted like human drivers. While auto insurance tips often remind drivers not to drive while distracted or sleepy, drivers often do. An autonomous car would never suffer those feelings. And, as far as science has taken technology, it is still impossible for a robot to drive while intoxicated.

Roughly 40,000 people die in car accidents every year. Autonomous cars would remove driver error, reducing these fatalities, say supporters. Despite critics, developers are testing more and more autonomous cars. In fact, Google has had a semi-secret project in the works for several years, clocking over 140,000 miles on seven cars with only minimal driver control. The only accident that occurred was a human rear-ending a robot car.

So what does that mean for the average driver today?

A specific objection raised against the driverless car is:

  • Robots do not have the instinct of human drivers

This is true. However, Google’s driverless car allows for a driver to take control with the touch of a button, much like cruise control. This is especially handy when others nearby do not follow laws, like bicyclists running red lights.

  • Higher cost than regular cars

With more technology, especially new technology in these cars, the autonomous car would likely cost more, at least to begin with.

Some possible benefits from autonomous cars include:

  • Fewer accident-related deaths

This is by far the best-selling point of a robot car. With safer travel, fewer people would die in senseless traffic accidents.

  • Fewer traffic accidents

While autonomous cars do mimic the responses of humans, they are not prone to driver error, nor will they fall asleep at the wheel, drive drunk, or get distracted by passengers and other atmospheric distractions.

  • Lower insurance costs

With fewer accidents, insurance premiums would drop, since the companies would have fewer claims to pay.

  • Less traffic

Robot cars would be able to drive closer together, speeding up transit time and allowing the maximum use of the roadway.

With Nevada leading the pack and more and more people realizing the great number of benefits which could come with driverless cars (a drawing board idea since the 1930s), before long we will see more and more of these cars on the streets.

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