Driverless Cars: Is It Safe To Take The Human Out Of The Loop?

1376 words - 6 pages

A driverless, or autonomous, car is a car that is able to operate and drive itself without the need of human interaction. Autonomous cars are able to navigate independently by using systems like GPS, radar and are able to sense the environment around the car by using sensors. Many major car companies, including Ford, General Motors, Audi, BMW and Volvo, have begun testing autonomous car systems. General Motors predict they could have a fully autonomous car on the road as soon as 2018[1]. There are many advantages to autonomous cars such as fewer traffic collisions, reduced congestion, relieves the occupants of navigation duties so they are free to do other things, and autonomous cars can be used by anyone even if they have a disability such as blindness. There are also some disadvantages to autonomous cars such as the risk of malware and hackers modifying the cars system, where the blame lies if a car is involved in a collision, and bugs in the cars system. The main question about autonomous cars is do we remove all human interaction of the car controls or do we still let them maintain some control in case the system malfunctions.

One of the biggest advantages of autonomous cars is less traffic collisions as the car is driven by a computer which uses sensors which detect obstacles and react to the obstacles quicker than any human can. If a car suddenly brakes in front of you the computer will be able to react and slow the car down much quicker than a human. Google tested eight autonomies car and each car had perfect driving records. During Google’s testing of autonomous vehicles they have only had two accidents and both accidents were caused by human interaction and not the fault of the car [2]. Google have announced that their autonomous cars have driven 300,000 miles without having a single accident [3]. In 2010, 30,196 people died, in the USA, due to traffic collisions [4]. If everyone were to drive an autonomous vehicle this number would drop dramatically, as nearly all traffic collisions are caused by human error, and not the fault of the car. Automated cars also have no consciousness so never get distracted or tired which would impair a human’s ability to drive safely and could cause road collisions [5].

Another advantage to autonomous vehicles is reduced traffic congestion. If all traffic is controlled by computers and GPS it would mean all cars will be able to drive at the same speed which means there will be less breaking which will lead to less traffic jams. Braking distances will be decreased because the cars computer will have a faster reaction time than a human, which means cars can travel closer together. This means more cars can fit on the road at any one time. Another way it reduces congestion is at traffic lights. Autonomous cars will be able to move off instantly as soon as the light changes to green which will mean the cars behind will not have to wait as long to move off [6]. This also means more cars will be able to...

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