The autonomous car – commonly known as the self-driving car – is taking the world by storm, with Tesla being a front runner in the manufacturing race. It is predicted that self-driving cars will benefit us and our environment in many ways.
For all its benefits and convenience a self-driving car may be making humans lazier. Many people enjoy driving manual or auto but a self-driving car takes away a person’s autonomy to drive. Let’s dive deeper into how autonomous cars may actually be killing the joy of driving.
What is an autonomous car?
An autonomous car is a vehicle that is capable of operating without human involvement by sensing its environment. A human passenger does not need to control it at all times and a human passenger may not be needed to be present at all times.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), there are 6 levels of driving automation
- Level 0 – No Automation; fully manual
- Level 1 – Driver Assisted; one automated system
- Level 2 – Partial Automation; automated steering and acceleration, human monitors all tasks and can take over control at any moment
- Level 3 – Conditional Automation; detects environment, the vehicle performs most driving tasks, human override is required
- Level 4 – High Automation; vehicle performs all driving tasks under specific conditions, geofencing is required, a human override is an option
- Level 5 – vehicle performs all driving tasks under all conditions, no human interaction is required
The need for Autonomous Cars
The self-driving car has long since been a utopian sci-fi dream. Sleek driverless cars cruising down futuristic roads have been a mainstay in many sci-fi novels and movies. However, it is not science fiction anymore, the driver-less car is becoming a reality.
Autonomous cars are predicted to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce traffic as fewer cars would be owned by people, fewer car parks would be needed creating more space for schools and community centres, amongst others. It is also assumed that driver-less cars may reduce the number of accidents.
Apart from environmental benefits, the self-driving car will be advantageous for other reasons. Autonomous cars can benefit differently-abled people, elderly citizens, and in the case of an emergency, the self-driving option could even be life-saving. However, there is a long way to go until fully autonomous cars can enter the market.
The other side of the autonomous industry
With the excitement surrounding autonomous cars, the drawbacks can be easily overlooked. As convenient and amazing autonomous cars are, they also come with an expensive price tag. It may not be affordable to everyone and only a specific demographic would be able to own a self-driving car.
Autonomous cars are still at a trial stage, but many car manufacturers are looking to introduce their versions into the car market. Tesla is a pioneer within the automated car industry, with Google now entering the ring. Car manufacturing greats like BMW, Ford, and many more are also competing for the top position.
If a future of only self-driving cars were to happen, our pedestrian behavior would have to change. A specific and thorough road system would have to be followed by autonomous car users and cities. Pedestrians will have to change their pedestrian behavioral patterns as a car would not be sentient the way a human driver would be.
Besides, driving enthusiasts may not be too happy with a car that drives itself. There is a certain charm to driving your vehicle, being able to operate something gives a sense of fulfillment and fun for anyone. That is why vintage cars still have a market as many people adore these manual vehicles.
Will the arrival of autonomous cars make manual and auto cars a mere recreational vehicle? Will autonomous cars make us lazier? Or will it benefit us in the long run?