Somehow, computers are ideal drivers. They don’t drink and get on the wheel. They don’t use drugs, they don’t get distracted, they don’t fall asleep, they don’t run the red light, and they don’t get too close to the car in front of them. And the reaction time is much shorter. In fact, they drive so well that autonomous vehicles have the potential to transform the driving experience by eliminating most traffic fatalities, reducing congestion significantly and generating tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits. So, what are the benefits of self-driving cars?
But there are still major obstacles to the extensive use of autonomous vehicles, of which the cost is the greatest. Right now, sensors, software, engineering, electrical and computing needs add a lot of value per vehicle, something apparently out of reach for most people. But large-scale production promises greater affordability over time.
Questions also remain about public acceptance, liability in case of accidents and the ability of manufacturers to prevent hackers from penetrating vehicle systems.
However, the advantages of autonomous vehicles are such that if only 10 percent of cars and trucks on U.S. highways were self-sufficient, they could reduce traffic fatalities by 1,000 cases annually and generate economically and other savings of nearly $38 billion, said a study by the Eno Transportation Center, a foundation dedicated to improving transportation.
If 90 percent of the vehicles were self-contained, some 21,700 deaths from traffic accidents would be prevented each year, and other benefits could reach $447 billion, the study said, which The Associated Press had access to.
For example, the passenger compartment could be changed so that old drivers can use laptops, eat, read, watch movies and call their friends. And cars that can be scheduled to pick up passengers, take them to their destination and park could change the lives of the elderly and disabled.
Government research indicates that driver errors are probably the main reason for more than 90% of all traffic accidents. More than 40% of fatal traffic accidents occur due to drinking alcohol, being distracted, using drugs or fatigue. Autonomous vehicles do not fall into these sins, suggesting a potential reduction of at least 40% in fatal accidents, the study indicates.
But Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, said that while autonomous vehicles can offer high hopes of reducing accidents caused by driver error, much will depend on the safety standards the government implements and how well manufacturers follow them.
The autonomous cars are in our near future and will be a significant contribution to improve the day to day of all. The car industry is not left behind because there are many prototypes of cars that would drive themselves. Right now, companies like Audi, BMW, Tesla, and Google are studying and progressing in the development of autonomous vehicles, and in fact, Google has already released a model that has been tested and works with satellites that are updated in real time so that the car continues its journey regardless of conditions.
These cars will work almost error-free, the technology that is being developed for us to have autonomous vehicles is so complicated that it includes all kinds of considerations, such as speed, how other vehicles are behaving, the distance that exists between various objects around them, and even the current location in the world. All this is so accurate that there should be virtually no errors when systems are running at 100%.
You can say goodbye to traffic. Traffic is only a problem created by the lack of coordination between all the cars on the streets. With vehicles driving alone, you won’t even have to use traffic signals because everyone will be communicating with each other, and therefore, traffic will be much less. The idea would be to drive at a lower speed, but with better coordination between all of us to avoid traffic jams.
No more parking issues
We will not have to worry about parking, in all the big cities there are always problems to get a parking space. With autonomous cars, this would not be a big problem because they would not need a driver. So, people using them could get off at their destination, and the car would keep looking for a parking space on its own, or even drive around the block a few times in the meantime.
Vehicles with a new design and more power will be created, if you don’t need all the tools we have now to handle these cars, the plan of them could change radically, so much so that they could become unrecognizable. This could also result in the engine being redesigned to become more powerful when needed. On the other hand, they could become entertainment centers where people would relax while waiting to arrive at their destination.
Connected vehicles are becoming more and more a reality that includes the best technology to make your driving safer, more comfortable and more efficient. They are cars equipped with Internet access, and wireless networks that take advantage of the integration into society of smartphones makes it possible to interact with it at any distance. Additional costs and data protection concerns are the challenges that this new technology will face.
Some of the key benefits of this new era of vehicle technology are as follows:
Call 112 in case of an accident. From 2018 onwards, all cars manufactured must be equipped with the ecall system, according to the European Parliament. Models already exist with a device that automatically alerts 112 in the event of an accident, without driver intervention. It also transmits data such as the position and time of the accident, the number of passengers on board and the type of fuel used. This system will allow a faster response from the emergency services.
Find the best route to your destination. The vehicles will be able to access virtual maps to offer you the best route, giving information on traffic jams, accidents, dangerous roads, closed roads or icy roads.
Forget about parking. There are already models capable of parking alone, without the driver being in the vehicle. The connected cars bring a robust system of radars, , and cameras that will also be able to help us in driving by reading signals, anticipating possible driving errors, such as road exits or speeding.
Talking between vehicles. Vehicle to vehicle technology allows vehicles connected to the network to warn each other, for example, if the car in front brakes abruptly, it will alert the one behind, minimizing the risk of accidents.
Book parking spaces before you arrive. Forget about running around like a madman looking for a parking space. Many brands include in their new model’s software that in addition to looking for a parking space nearby book a place before arriving. Also, software companies prepare an application that will take care of the payment process, automatically opening the barrier thanks to a mechanism that works by geolocation.
Digital key. With an app on your mobile, you can give someone else permission to use your car, even if they don’t have the key. This system, designed for collaborative savings, will work for as long as the vehicle owner wants. So you can’t steal your friend’s car anytime you want.
Check electrical charging points. Electric cars will have an interface that allows them to find nearby recharging points. You can also check the status of the batteries remotely by starting or stopping recharging.
Use your smartphone applications from your car. Internet connection has become a reality that we always want to have. That’s why all connected vehicles work to deliver the same internet experience as mobile phones. You can listen to streaming music, receive calls or interact on social networks, without distracting yourself from the road.
Activate the remote air conditioning system. You no longer have to wait with the car pulled out and the windows down to get going after a day at the beach. From your smartphone, you can turn on the air conditioning or district heating or roll up or down the windows.
Find the location. Your vehicle will include tracking and tracing applications, very useful when you don’t remember where you parked, but above all that will be useful in case of theft.
One aspect that automotive companies are also considering is the activities that passengers perform when they are transported by these vehicles.
Some more statistics
Last year, driverless vehicles were placed at the center of technological innovations. Several companies around the world are presenting models of these autonomous machines, which promise to reconfigure traffic in cities in the coming decades. During a conference at the Consumer Electronic Show 2017 (CES), held January 5-8 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Nissan Motor President Carlos Ghosn predicted that by 2030, 15% of vehicles worldwide will be autonomous.
The arrival of this technology on the streets has some advantages and disadvantages. The coexistence of automatic systems and regular cars, legal challenges and passenger safety are just a few. But one aspect that automotive companies are also considering is the activities that passengers develop when they are being transported by these vehicles. People spend a good part of their day in them and thanks to autonomous driving technology; cars become environments where users benefit from the attention that does not have to pay attention to what is happening around them.
The car has then become the third place, which he agrees with the sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place, quoted by The Verve, a son who shares common and essential features around the world. The uniformity of the third place overshadows the changes in its outward appearance and does not affect the cultural differences towards the area where public life takes place, Oldenburg explains in his book.
According to The Verge, third familiar places are a coffee shop, a park or a bar. But can cars really become third places? The publication indicates that the two reasons why machines require our attention become the new spaces of coexistence. On the one hand, there is the increasing use of carpooling with platforms such as Uber and BlaBla, and on the other, the development of increasingly active autonomous driving systems.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s busiest technology fair, which took place last week in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, several companies, several projects in which the turning point was no longer just the driving qualities of the vehicles, but all the tools that these machines offer to enjoy or take advantage of the trip without having to worry about an accident.
With autonomous vehicles and connected cars already on the road in cities around the world, the potential benefits and challenges of this mobility revolution are being explored in increasing detail.
Ohio University research has highlighted just a few of the potential ways that driverless cars could improve our lives, whether it’s making our lives more environmentally friendly, improving our cities, or making our towns much safer for both drivers and pedestrians.
Here are just a few of how a future without a driver could benefit us all:
Autonomous vehicles are, to all intents and purposes, software on wheels. The technology involved in a driverless car of the future will be such that each car can be optimized to ensure that fuel consumption is as efficient as possible. So much, so those new age cars are expected to help reduce emissions by 60%.
By eliminating the possibility of human error, self-drive cars will reduce the number of accidents caused by driver error, drink-driving or distracted drivers. Once driverless cars become common on our streets, collisions are expected to be reduced by 90%.
It is estimated that the average travel time in metropolitan areas of the U.S. is currently about 27 minutes in each direction. Since humans are no longer involved in driving, travelers are likely to save up to an hour a day, which will undoubtedly have many welfare benefits to boost the economy.
Each year, people living in urban areas of the United States spend nearly 7 billion hours on traffic, waste 3.1 billion gallons of fuel and lose about $160 billion due to traffic congestion.
With driverless cars able to access up-to-the-minute data to help monitor traffic, as well as digital maps and other tools, they will be able to determine the fastest and most efficient route possible. All this will result in less traffic, less congestion and less time and fuel waste.
Driverless cars will play a vital role in the future of smart cities, and will even influence the way in which the city’s infrastructure is designed and built. Today, parking lots require that cars be parked with enough space between each vehicle for the driver to exit after parking. Cars driving on their own will not need to park themselves, which means that vehicles can be stacked more next to each other.
It is estimated that cars without drivers can be parked with 15% less space, which means significant space savings for urban areas around the world.
They will offer greater independence, and complete automation offers more personal freedom. People with disabilities, such as the blind, are able to be self-sufficient, and highly automated vehicles can help them live the lives they want.
These vehicles can also improve the independence of older people. The sharing of heavy vehicles could reduce personal transport costs by providing more affordable mobility.
They will bring higher productivity to the masses. Large-scale deployment of heavy vehicles could allow drivers to make up time; in the future, self-contained cars could offer the convenience of leaving the occupants of the vehicle at their destination, be it an airport or a shopping mall, while the car is parked.
In a fully automated vehicle, all occupants could safely perform more productive or entertaining activities, such as responding to email or watching a movie.
Creating less congestion on the streets and fewer crashes means fewer backups on the road. Autonomous vehicles maintain a safe and consistent distance between vehicles, helping to reduce the number of stop-and-go waves that cause congestion on the streets.
Cars being self-contained have considerable environmental benefits as they have the potential to reduce fuel use and carbon emissions. Fewer traffic jams save fuel and minimize additional greenhouse gases from idling. Automation and car sharing can stimulate demand for all types of electric vehicles. When the car is used more hours a day through carpooling, any initial battery costs could also be shared, increasing the economic attractiveness of electric cars.
For the most part, the first cars without a driver will offer the ability to free their hands while keeping some attention on the road. They will take care of annoying functions such as parallel parking or navigation in narrow alleyways.
And, if some dreamers get away with it, it will be easier for low-income Americans to share ownership of the vehicles they occasionally need or take advantage of reduced transportation costs with Uber or Lyft.
Higher speed limits will also be allowed since all cars are in communication with each other and are programmed to maintain a specific interval between them, and everyone knows when to expect them to stop and start, the need to accommodate human reflexes on the road will be eliminated. Therefore, cars can maintain higher average speeds while sacrificing very little concerning safety and/or fuel efficiency. This means that more upper-speed limits can be enacted, as collision concerns will be eliminated entirely.
A car’s structural design
Cars will become lighter and more versatile; the vast majority of the weight in today’s cars exists because of the need to incorporate safety equipment. Steel door beams, deformation zones and the need to build vehicles from steel, in general, are all related to preparing for accidents. Cars that drive themselves will crash less frequently, accidents will be eliminated entirely, and the need to build vehicles that withstand terrible crashes will be reduced. This means that cars can be lighter, which will make them more fuel efficient. And because you don’t have to worry about the placement of a car’s control mechanisms, you can organize the interior any way you want. All seats can even look inwards, as there is no need to worry about the driver’s visibility.
When driverless technology becomes available to the market as a whole, the global mass will be ready to feel the quality and peace of mind of a future automobile, where transportation will be driven by a high technology protected by a safe and high-quality systematization, which will have multiple benefits in daily proactive activities.
The technological revolution is advancing by leaps and bounds in all areas, be it medicine, telecommunications, etc. Especially in the field of means of transport, in this case the technological development of autonomous vehicles which is gradually gaining a place in the car market as they have the advantage of facilitating the movement of people with disabilities or for elderly people who have various difficulties especially with the sense of sight.
As we have seen, autonomous cars are already a reality, they are the future of the automotive industry that will revolutionize society. This process will happen slowly as replacing a person with a computer is not easy, but it will bring significant benefits to humanity. We can start to see this technological development in hybrid cars that use an additional battery to the combustion engine, or electric cars that only need to recharge their battery to work, but the real challenge is to combine all these technological advances to achieve a completely autonomous vehicle.
These vehicles without a driver will be cars without the possibility of making mistakes, and this requires frequent testing. It is therefore of great importance to be familiar with these products so that when they reach the market, they can be used correctly and take advantage of all their functions and benefits.
The autonomous vehicles are going to arrive in the next few years and with them a social and economic revolution. The changes will be profound, though undoubtedly gradual. There will be pressure groups that will try to get legislators to prevent certain things, as these changes will affect them negatively, but in the end, the changes will be imposed. And sooner than we can think.