Sunday, June 23

The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles: Impacts and Challenges

The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles: Impacts and Challenges

Will the world ever embrace autonomous vehicles? These cars are made to drive without human control but might not be trustworthy for many years.

Many cities have already begun to test driverless vehicles with partnerships through ride-share companies. While this new technology could be impressive, we might not be ready to allow cars to drive us without our control. There are many challenges and impacts these vehicles could have on our world going forward. What does this mean for our future? Let’s take a look at some challenges of this new technology.

Traffic can be challenging

Most of the time, we think of self-driving cars as personal vehicles that could replace what we currently drive around in traffic. Although this application of driverless cars is important, something that might work much sooner could be self-driving trucks and public transportation. These vehicles should be capable of driving extremely close together because they communicate with each other while driving. Unfortunately, the transition to self-driving vehicles requires integration with current vehicles as well. It’s nearly impossible to remove human-driven vehicles in favor of these computerized and system-driven models, but traffic integration will be one of the first and toughest challenges faced.

There isn’t an infrastructure to support these vehicles

Some have suggested autonomous vehicles (AVs) might require advanced systems to allow vehicles to communicate with each other through sensors in the road or cloud-based technology. Most of these vehicles require clear lane striping to sense the lane barriers and drive without issue. How many roads have you been on that don’t have clear stripes down both sides of the lanes? This could also create extra challenges for road construction. Crews might need to complete a section of road before allowing traffic back into the area instead of allowing lanes to be reduced and traffic to pass by.

Most cities will lose a significant revenue stream

Like it or not, traffic tickets and fines constitute a percentage of the operating revenue for most municipalities. Self-driving vehicles should be programmed to avoid running lights, speeding, or overstaying time at traffic meters. This loss of revenue could require cities to find new ways to make up this money. This could be as simple as creating a tax on self-driving vehicles when registered. Another would be to reduce the police force. Without traffic issues, fewer officers will be necessary.

Insurance liability: who’s to blame?

One of the biggest challenges facing the future of self-driving vehicles is who will be to blame in an accident. How will insurance companies handle this? It’s unrealistic to expect automakers to accept full responsibility for self-driving vehicle accidents, but where else should the blame be placed? Most likely, owners of new AVs will be required to accept blame and insure the vehicles similar to how they are insured now. Unless the vehicle systems fail, most accidents should be the fault of another driver, not the self-driving vehicle. When all vehicles can drive themselves, we might not need auto insurance any longer.

How will police handle self-driving vehicles?

Could drug traffic rings use AVs to carry drugs across borders? How will police know when a vehicle is tailgating or if it’s a series of connected Avs? What happens when an officer pulls over an autonomous vehicle for a routine traffic stop, and the only human in the vehicle is sitting in the rear seat taking a nap? The rules will change when it comes to AVs, and police could work with manufacturers to create technology to ensure they can still do their job effectively.

Equality on the road

How much more efficient can a person be if their commute time is turned into functional performance time for their job? Will autonomous vehicles be only available to the upper class, creating an inequality in the world in which the lower income residents must carry the burden of traffic fines? Could these new AVs become another way for the wealthy to take advantage of the poor? What happens when all non-AVs are outlawed? Self-driving cars could create a larger divide in the social and economic aspects of our lives, which is the opposite of what’s needed.

The future of autonomous vehicles also requires humans to trust these vehicles to make it from one place to another without issue. Think about how often you have issues with your phone, computer, tablet, or other electronic device. These items aren’t 100% efficient or effective, which is what would be required by autonomous vehicles.

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