Driverless cars – A case study

DThe roads we drive on are very dangerous, with people making news often, with crashes and deaths. Humans are, so it seems, fantastically flawed creatures. And yet many would trust a human to drive, rather than a computer.

Arguments against driverless cars:

  1. They won’t work until cars are as smart as humans. Self-Driving cars could be very well executed, because, ideally, all cars could interface, removing traffic jams altogether, and severely reducing crashes. This would require infrastructure to be in place.
  2. Self driving cars will cause jams. Well yes, but actually no. As mentioned previously, all cars could interface and prevent this.
  3. They could be hacked to cause problems, like in 9/11. This could happen with any car already, anyone could get in a car and run people over. But security would be high, and death rates might actually drop.
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If people are tired they are unable to concentrate and it is known that when you are sleep deprived, there is a decrease in brain function, primarily in one’s alertness and attention, and both are needed for safe driving. Driverless cars would eradicate this issue and ensure the safety of lives. In the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are over 100,000 crashes due to people driving whilst being sleep deprived resulting in over 6,500 deaths per year.

Alcohol can have the same effect in reducing the driver’s alertness and reaction time which can prove fatal on the roads. On average in the UK there are 3,500 people who are seriously injured as a result of drink driving every year. The reason alcohol increases accidents is that it increases human reaction time. A self-driving car has a near  reaction time, and as a result, would prevent these issues.

So reasons why a person may need a driverless car:

  • Too tired to drive
  • Disabled
  • Potential distractions? E.g. children
  • Drunk
Driverless cars could help eliminate the issue of drunk driving.
Driverless cars could help eliminate accidents due to texting and cell phone use, as well as distracted driving accidents.
It is estimated that driverless cars will result in less braking and accelerating and therefore less gridlock on highways.
If cars become driverless there will be an estimated 80% less emissions, 90% less accidents, as much as 40% less traffic congestion, and space saved in parking.Driverless cars effect on society:According to the US Department of Transportation’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, 94 percent of road accidents are caused by human error, and it is said that driverless technology will drastically lower, if not eliminate this factor.It is predicted that people of 2030 will have some 320,000 jobs in the self-driving car industry open to them, and there will be 2,500 more people alive than there might have been otherwise.A recent study carried out by the SMMT entitled Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The UK Economic Opportunity, projected that the number of accidents will fall by 25,000 a year over the next 16 years.Also here’s a cool thing- the human reaction time is 0.19 secs, while a computer reaction time is a billionth of a second.

How driverless cars benefit the environment:

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– Driverless cars use significantly less gas and fuel, compared to a vehicle driven by a human. Most gas is burned when driving at high speed, braking and re-accelerating excessively. Driverless cars cut these factors out, meaning less gas is burned, resulting in less air pollution.

– Driverless cars mean that there will be fewer cars per household. Due to its high intelligence, these cars could drop the kids off to school, take the adults to work and then park itself until it’s time to pick them back up. Given that vehicles are a significant contributor to global warming, the reduction of cars on the road results in less carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

– They will also reduce traffic which will reduce pollution in more urban areas and allow the authorities to focus on pedestrians and green space rather than traffic flows.

Sources:

Arguments against automated cars: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/12/7-arguments-against-the-autonomous-vehicle-utopia/578638/

https://greenerideal.com/news/vehicles/driverless-cars-environmental-benefits/

Drink driving stats:

https://www.drinkdriving.org/drink_driving_statistics_uk.php

Sleep deprivation stats:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep-deprived_driving

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