If there’s any device, machine or gadget that can be described as high tech, it’s definitely the driverless car- or a little more accurately- the autonomous car. We’ve fantasized about them for decades in movies and science fiction books or even just randomly in our imaginations. But for the first time in a really really long time, Autonomous cars are really being worked on, and at a very fast rate.
A few basic facts:
They’re here already: If you shrugged your shoulders when you read the title of this article, with the assumption that driverless cars wouldn’t become popular in your own lifetime and that’s more appropriate for your grandkids, you need to think again. They’re not just being designed, autonomous cars are already being tested. And not just on closed roads, but on normal roads with other human-driven cars driving by.
The big boys are making plans: The giant automakers are all trying to outrace each other and be the first to be able to get it out on a commercial scale. Even Google has conducted tests, and we hear Apple has something in the pipelines too. General Motors has announced plans to release a version without steering wheels and pedals by 2019, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Mercedes, Toyota and others have all conducted tests. If the big names are in on it, you can be sure it’s legit.
The Human factor: While engineers may have tested, corrected and retested their systems to ensure perfect working software for autonomous cars, there is, unfortunately, no such engineer for humans. Accidents will still occur due to negligence by human drivers. In fact, Google’s driverless car was involved in a minor accident during a road test when someone jumping a light rear-ended the vehicle. The solution to this might be to introduce driverless cars en masse while withdrawing traditional cars totally. This may not be practical however
Jobs: This is a big one. When autonomous cars take over, what will be the fate of the millions of drivers all over the world? Chauffers, cab drivers, even truckers will find themselves out of a job by the time this happens. We are however optimistic that a way will be found around this problem, think about it, the cinema owners and operators in the motion picture era must have been very scared when televisions became rampant. But then, everybody sorted themselves somehow. We’ll sort ourselves somehow too.
Security: Since the car is being basically driven and controlled by a combination of sensors and software, isn’t there the possibility that it gets hacked and incapacitated (or worse) by a malicious third party? This is another legit concern. But here’s an angle. If you can think about it, then the automakers and their engineers have most likely thought about it too and there will most likely be very intense security measures put in place to prevent unauthorized access and control.
Challenges aside, we can’t wait to get into a car, program the destination and catch a quick nap or read a book while it zooms off on its own.