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The Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles

I am convinced that autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars or automated cars, are the wave of the near future. There are already several dozen prototypes roaming the streets around the world. So now is the time to determine the advantages and disadvantages of these autonomous vehicles before it is too late.

The Advantages of Autonomous Vehicles
  1. Fewer Accidents: Reducing human errors should drastically decrease the number of car accidents.
  2. Cheaper Insurance: With fewer accidents, the costs of car insurance should also decrease, and not just for the insurance of automated cars.
  3. Better Traffic Flow: Computers have a much better holistic understanding of traffic flow and can drive multiple cars in unison, thus allowing better traffic flow, shorter driving times, and more fuel economy.
  4. Efficiency: Since autonomous cars will be able to drive much closer together to each other, automated cars will furthermore decrease traffic and increasing fuel economy by decreasing vehicle drag.
  5. Time: In my opinion, the biggest benefit of autonomous vehicles is the saved time. People (formerly drivers) will instantly have their commute time freed up for work and leisure activities while stuck in their cars.
  6. Fewer Cars: Car sharing should become more popular. For instance, one family member could be driven to work or school, then the empty car drive back home to pick up another family member, and drive that person to work or school. Thus families could save money by owning fewer vehicles, less car insurances, less maintenance costs, and maybe even less fuel costs when car pooling.
  7. No Driving Exams: Almost anyone, including children too young to drive, people too old, blind, disabled, too sick, sleepy/sleeping, or even inebriated, will be able to take a vehicle, since they will not be driving and not need to pass a driving exam.
  8. Less Stress: Driving can be stressful at times, thus automated driving can and will reduce stress.
  9. Fewer Traffic Guides: Driverless cars do not need street signs, road signs, traffic lights, and even road lights, thus reducing governments’ costs.
  10. Less Parking Spaces: Automated cars can drop people off at the entrance of buildings and more willing to drive an extra distance to find available parking.
  11. More Convenient Maintenance: Automated cars can automatically take themselves for maintenance, repairs, and fuel; and even find a replacement vehicle for their owners without their owners’ involvement.
The Disadvantages of Autonomous Vehicles
  1. Laws and Regulations: If an automated car is in an accident, who is responsible? Is it the people in the car (if any), the car’s owner(s), the car’s manufacturer(s), or the car’s software creator(s)?
  2. Longer Trips: In my opinion, people would be much more willing to tolerate longer commutes, if their travel time is free and less stressful. As a result, increase fuel consumption and traffic could increase.
  3. Massive Job Loss: Truck drivers, taxi drivers, and even delivery people can and will lose their jobs.
  4. Police: With fewer people violating traffic laws (i.e. speeding) and fewer accidents, fewer people officers will be needed as well as less revenue for the police/government (fewer tickets).
  5. Increased Complexity and Risk: Computers can malfunction, be hacked, spontaneous crash and reboot, and automated cars are heavily reliant on GPS systems. All of these systems are increased risk for safety when using an autonomous vehicle.
  6. Cost: Automated cars will have a higher cost than non-automated vehicles, however this cost maybe offset by fewer cars being maybe needed.
  7. Appeal: For some people, the appeal of driving their own car will be too great. The human need for control, power, and speed is a strong desire for some people.
  8. Experimental: Finally, autonomous cars are still experimental and have not completely proven themselves.. yet.
In my opinion, autonomous vehicles are inevitability, because their advantages greatly outweigh their disadvantages. As a result, people, especially those whose livelihoods depends on driving, should try to adapt before it is too late.

by Phil for Humanity
on 02/13/2015

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