Driving Toward a Faster Future: Are Self-Driving Cars a Safe Alternative?

Movies have been showing us self-driving cars were going to be just around the corner for quite some time now. Fast forward to 2020 and they have finally become a reality. Why did it take so long? Where is the future of self-driving cars taking us? We are going to explore the history behind this innovation, as well as what the risks and benefits are when it comes to automated driving.

The History of Self-Driving Cars

Believe it or not, a working prototype of an automated car has existed for nearly 100 years. That’s right, in 1925 there was a Chandler sedan remotely controlled thanks to a transmitting antenna installed in it. The car ultimately crashed, but it was the first proof of concept showing self-driving cars would be feasible.

Nearly 100 years later, starting in 2013, several car companies started incorporating automated driving technologies into their vehicles. Tesla was on the forefront of companies incorporating this exciting technology, with BMW, Mercedes Benz, and others also jumping in on the trend.

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

Car manufacturers plan to integrate several automated driving systems into their vehicles by 2025. Some of these include:

  • Traffic jam assistance
  • Lane keeping assistance
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Self-park assistance

What lies beyond 2025 is the roll out of true autopilot, as well as even more automated features to keep drivers and passengers safe.

Benefits of Self-Driving Cars

Nearly 40,000 people are killed every year, in the United States alone, because of cars. Many more than that are injured, sometimes for life. All these deaths and injuries are caused by humans driving these cars, due to human error. Perhaps the largest benefit of all cars switching to automated is the ability to save the lives of tens of thousands of people. 

Another benefit to self-driving cars is the ability for the disabled and elderly to drive safely. It can be difficult to impossible for these groups of people to drive without posing a risk to themselves and others. However, thanks to self-driving features in cars, they will have the freedom to be able to drive.

Risks of Self-Driving Cars

While the benefits of automated driving are huge, there are some drawbacks to this technology as well. First, installing this technology into cars will increase the cost of these vehicles. As with any new technology, it will be expensive at first. However, over time, the costs involving self-driving technology should decrease.

A major risk to self-driving cars is the ability to hack into them. It is possible that cars with self-driving technology can become susceptible to hackers, who can do things such as take control over a vehicle. If they are more malevolent-minded, they can even cause it to crash. The important thing for car manufacturers to do concerning this risk is to ensure the way a car communicates with the outside world is not susceptible to hacking. 

A Positive Future for Self-Driving Cars

Once they have been perfected, self-driving cars could bring humanity one step closer to an idyllic society promised to us in sci-fi utopias. They can give people the luxury of having more free time. Instead of spending an entire commute with your eyes peeled on the road, feeling like you are in a race for survival, you can lay back and relax. You can even watch a movie if you want to or catch up on some work projects. Leisure time would generally expand, leading to a more relaxed society. With the average American driving the equivalent of 12 days every year, the amount of time freed up to relax and enjoy life would be greatly increased.