As vehicle technology continues to progress, autonomous cars are beginning to look more like a reality than sci-fi. Should we be excited or scared?
To a certain degree, autonomous cars are already here thanks to Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's upcoming Super Cruise, but these technologies still require some occasional driver inputs. With totally self-driving cars on the horizon, here are a few pros and cons to think about.
When cars are able to drive themselves, the roadways will surely become safer as multitasking drivers will no longer be a risk to others. For these drivers, they can text, put on makeup or eat a sandwich to their heart's content without having to worry about harming themselves or others.
Automakers are already looking toward a future of autonomous cars and the unique abilities these will afford designers. Just recently, a Ford Motor Company patent was revealed that showed a retractable table with airbags that could be used for passenger entertainment while the car is driving itself.
Autonomous cars will utilize vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, and this will allow traffic to flow in a more efficient pattern - no more sitting idle at a red light with no cross traffic. This technology will also help cars travel closer together on highways improving efficiency through drafting as well as opening up more space for added traffic.
Accidents will always happen, but what will happen when a vehicle being driven autonomously crashes into another car or person? This might be the biggest factor that is limiting the application of autonomous cars. All of the necessary technology is already there, but laws and regulations must be figured out before fully self-driving cars can become ready for the streets.
The technology behind autonomous cars will not only increase the costs associated with purchasing the car, but it will also create new costs to develop the infrastructure. Some automakers are already working local, state and federal governments to come up with a plan to begin implementing autonomous cars.
As is the case with anything reliant on a computer these days, the issue of hacking raises red flags for both safety and privacy. If a hacker takes control of a car or a region of cars, then that could be extremely dangerous.