When most of us think about technology, we think about new smartphones and robots. What hasn’t gotten as much attention, but will certainly change our society, is autonomous vehicles. These are vehicles driven by an onboard computer system, that uses data from a vast array of sensors to drive from one point to another with no human interference required. The advance of these new machines has the potential to change our society forever.
At first glance, driverless cars don’t seem to be that important– just an extra convenience for the human. Maybe the driver can sip coffee and do some work in the car, instead of driving. However, driverless cars have potential to be much more useful than that. To begin, the computers driving will almost certainly be more accurate and careful than a human will. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 93% of all car crashes are due to human error. With around 1.3 million people dying in car accidents every year, these advanced vehicles can save millions of lives.
Another big change to society is the issue of parking lots. Without the need for drivers, cars can park away from urban settings by themselves and save cities a lot of room. Some predict that in 15 years, 90% of urban parking lots will be gone, and this space can be used for new businesses, offices, and more.
As good as some of these changes sound, driverless cars also bring in some problems. Like always, when new technology is invented, it replaces some human labor and leaves them without a job. In this case, the people who will pay are those in the transportation industry. With nearly 3.5 million professional truck drivers, over 600,000 bus drivers, and over 200,000 taxi drivers in this country alone, there will be a lot of people who will be left out of work by these new vehicles.(It should be noted, however, that autonomous vehicles could also create new jobs in computer programming and technology.) Another big concern about these cars is car insurance: when two driverless cars crash, albeit rarely, who will be at fault? The car company? The humans in the car? Car insurance will almost certainly become more complex.
All in all, it is pretty clear how powerful autonomous cars can be. They will save many lives and save a tremendous amount of city space. And while they will take away transportation jobs, they could also create new ones in technology fields. But these are just predictions. When these cars finally hit the roads in 5-10 years, they will probably further change our lives in ways that are impossible to predict. The future of our society, with this technology, looks very bright indeed.
– Amit Rajesh