Where there is self-regulation in driving, there perhaps shall be no need to have self-driving technology. Given today’s traffic conditions and driving practices, it is imperative to look for alternative solutions to tackle the present-day’s traffic as well as driving challenges that have largely gone out of hands throwing caution to the winds. The plight of traffic woes in India and elsewhere globally can definitely be not solved overnight. There are many angles to the never-ending traffic woes like, for example, the need to monitor one’s focus while driving, alacrity to follow traffic rules, following highway and motor-act guidelines, ability to reach destination in less time thus saving fuel, energy, as well as time, abstinence from road-rage and thereby, showing compassion on fellow human beings and let emergency vehicles like ambulances and convoys to pass by, ability to park one’s vehicle at the right place in less time, and so on.
( Image showing the interiors of a self-driving car – source: AutoInsurancecenter.com )
Do self-governing cars and trucks pave the way to end wayward traffic woes?
Though the driving trends and traffic woes differ from place to place across the world, the common errors are the same across the world. It is based upon these observations where the drivers are at fault as many as 33,000 fatalities despite being preventable has happened because of distracted driving on an annual basis, as per the Centers for Disease Control fatality report. Though faulty mechanics can be cited as the reason for certain accidents, it is usually the drivers who are quite often than not the most dangerous deed about hitting an open road. Hitherto, a computer cannot be “distracted” as it is the leading cause of accidents in the United States at present.
( Can we see them overtaking today’s cars as the ‘Future of Travel’? – source: forums.penny-arcade.com )
On the other hand, in comparison to a variety of bad-behaviors that drivers can exhibit behind the wheel, a computing ‘self-control’ mechanism is actually an ideal motorist as they prevent a lot of danger with 81 percent of car crashes resulting due to a human error.
Will autonomous cars hit-and-run away like human drivers?
Humans do err but the million-dollar question is do self-driving cars with all their sophisticated software control also make for blunders or not! Will they also join the culprit bandwagon in the road rage incidents?
At present, the success of self-driving cars relies more on realistic mapping systems through GPS. However, there are security concerns about self-driving cars too as GPS devices are known to be not precise always. It’s a debatable matter of concern as to how the self-driving cars could ride their way through roadblocks or specific local driving laws that come with incompatible local and state rules.
( World’s first self-driving Taxis at Singapore – source: Fortune.com )
According to Teletrac, the ability to drive an autonomous car also requires education on the driver’s part on how to drive the car safely despite the vehicle being operated by a computer. If a technology like GPS or traffic signals that the car relies on fails, the cars cannot interpret human signals and this may lead to any kind of a severe road accident.
( Cab/Taxi supremo UBER autonomous vehicle with a human driver for precaution – source: robota.lu )
The cars were not able to operate at a high-level safety for all weather conditions, especially when heavy rains can seriously mar the laser sensors set up on the car roofs thus putting the role of the driver in jeopardy during an event of technology failures/glitches rendering the drivers helpless in the event of a calamity.
( Anthony Levandowski speaks during the pilot model launch of the #SelfDrivingUber car in September 2016 – source: AFP/GETTY IMAGES )
The top player in cab booking services, Uber launched Self-Driving Uber taxis competing with other players in this domain like Google, Waymo, Nutonomy, etc. In one of the incidents, Uber made a settlement with one of its victims who was killed by its autonomous taxi despite being manned by a human driver from inside.
( Uber acquisition of OTTO’s self-driving trucks – source: Wired.com )
Uber’s acquisition of self-driving trucks from OTTO is another step forward in the self-driving transport revolution adding further menace to the already existing assassinating woes of self-driving cars.