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Self Driven Cars M...

December 30, 2014 17:05

Google recently took the wraps off a prototype self-driving car. This car, unlike the ones that we are accustomed to, has no steering wheel or pedals. Driverless car technology has been an ambitious goal for many a car manufacturers. Nissan believes that an affordable self driving car may hit the roads in the next six years.

The Volkswagen group also has been actively working on this technology.  In fact, in their effort to bring driverless car technology into mainstream production, they have recently tested two self operated Audi vehicles at the speeds of 305 kilometers per hour. Luxury car makers like Mercedes-Benz have been developing systems that reduce driver strain. Some of its cars assist the driver by parking itself, without any intervention of the driver. This is a precursor to the driverless car technology that is being aimed today.

Mercedes-Benz has also started rolling out a Stop&Go pilot as an option in its C-class sedan buyers. This quasi self-driving car technology allows the car to match the speed of the vehicle in front of it and steers itself to a complete halt too if needed. It is still important to note that as for now, these cars are still a long way from becoming a commonality on our roads. There are umpteen regulatory and legal aspects that need to be sorted out. Some of the benefits that driverless car technology may bring are:

  • Sharp reduction in crashes – Self-driving cars could end up saving thousands of lives. Most reported deaths due to road accidents are because of drunken drivers. This will no longer be the case with driverless car technology.

  • Everyone can drive - Everyone will be able to drive these cars, including people with disabilities, the elderly and those who may be too frail. However these cars fall under the legally permissible age for driving. Self-driving cars will allow all these people to commute without any impediments that currently exist.

  • Convenient Travel - This technology would make commuting less stressful and quicker. Driving is one of the most miserable activities for the majority of the world’s population. The maddening traffic and the commuting distances add to the misery. Driverless car technology could put an end to a number of commuting woes. These self-operating cars can maintain better speeds and also avoid traffic snarls since they would all be interconnected.

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks of this technology. 

  • Overburdened Infrastructure - Distances will no longer matter and more people will start commuting from nearby locations to cities.

  • Layoffs - A lot of people who rely on driving as a source of their livelihood may find themselves jobless. This is especially true for cab, truck and bus drivers.

  • Increased traffic - The number of cars on the streets might increase exponentially. Since knowing or learning how to drive, may not be a deterrent or a requirement, the number of cars being sold may go up significantly.

  • Rules and regulations – Rules and regulations would need to be thoroughly revamped to be able to manage self-operated cars. In the case of a crash due to a component malfunction, who would be liable? Would it be a car manufacturer or the owner of the vehicle?

So even though the car manufacturers are doing their best to get driverless car technology on the streets, there is still a long way to go. What other impacts this radical new technology may have is anyone’s guess? Till then we wait and watch in anticipation.

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