Autonomous vehicles, also known as ‘Driverless cars’ are part of the latest inventions to hit our world today. Some years ago, if someone has mentioned the possibility of a driverless vehicle, many of us would have laughed it off as something only for sci-fi movies. Today however, it has become a possibility that not only exists but is already being used in some parts of the world.
Although operated without anybody physically driving it, they are said to be able to perform the same functions as the regular traditional cars. The difference is that with these driverless cars, there are likely to be less road accidents, less fuel consumption and definitely less traffic jam. Please note however that this doesn’t that drivers will automatically pull down their chairs and sleep while the car does the driving. In situations that require pulling out or into a parking lot and other complex tasks of driving, you would still need to handle the steering wheel.
Below are some of the findings as contained in a report by RAND Corporation titled: “Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A guide for policymakers”.
Automated Vehicle Technology Offers Several Benefits
- Without driver error, fewer vehicle crashes will result.
- The mobility of the young, the elderly, and the disabled will be increased.
- Traffic flow could be more efficient and congestion decreased.
- Vehicle occupants could spend travel time engaged in other activities, so the costs of travel time and congestion are reduced.
- Fuel efficiency can be increased and alternative energy sources facilitated.
- Because such vehicles won’t need proximate urban parking, space used for parking could be repurposed.
There Are Possible Drawbacks
- Because the technology would decrease the cost of driving, congestion might increase, rather than decrease.
- Occupations and economies based on public transit, crash repair, and automobile insurance might suffer as the technology makes certain aspects of these occupations obsolete.
Weighing the benefits against the possible setbacks, it seems like the benefits far outweigh the setbacks thus making the Autonomous vehicle a very welcome and much needed change in our transportation system.
Asides Google owning a fleet of these cars, other car manufacture companies are also working on their projects. Among these are Ford, BMW, Delphi and Texas Instruments. Once these cars hit the streets full-time, they will surely give reduce the time drivers spend driving, giving them ample time to get other things done.
The future we saw only in movies and dreams is indeed upon us now and we as African must ready ourselves to embrace it or be swept away.