Self-driving cars are no longer a vague concept that may start being used at some point in the distant future. Instead, the shift to driverless vehicles is happening right now, with many different companies creating innovative cars that are capable of navigating without human intervention. Before the technology goes into use in the real world, however, there are some major changes that need to take place.
IBI, a group that specializes in engineering and architecture, recently released a report detailing some of the many ways that autonomous vehicles can help resolve some of the primary issues that we are facing in the transportation industry. The report also takes a closer look at things that can go wrong if the technology is not used correctly.
The report refers to self-driving cars as connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). These vehicles can not only detect buildings, traffic lights, and other types of infrastructure but they can also detect smaller moving objects like mobile phones, pedestrians, or other nearby vehicles. Their high-end sensors allow them to capture and analyze what is happening around them, enabling them to drive themselves without the need for a human driver.
Before these cars can truly take to the road, however, there need to be some major changes made to the infrastructure and design of most cities. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with self-driving vehicles:
Advantage: Increased Safety On The Road
According to the report, a staggering 90% of all vehicle accidents are the result of driver-related errors. A large percentage of those accidents are caused by distracted driving. In the past year alone, 30,000 people lost their lives as a result of car accidents.
One of the ways that driverless vehicles can help is by minimizing the number of severe traffic accidents that occur. Fully autonomous vehicles that don’t have built-in controls are expected to be on the road by 2020. Most experts expect the number of accidents and fatalities resulting from traffic accidents to significantly drop when that occurs.
Disadvantage: Accidents May Increase During The Transition Period
When autonomous vehicles start showing up on the road, there may be a brief period of time where the number of accidents increases. When both traditional and driverless cars are on the road, there is a greater potential for accidents. As more and more cars become driverless, however, this problem is expected to resolve itself.
Advantage: Superior Efficiency
Roadway congestion is at an all-time high in many cities. It is no wonder, either, when you consider that the streets are filled with traditional cars, public transportation, taxis, and ridesharing services. The report put out by IBI indicates that this problem may improve with the introduction of autonomous vehicles. These self-driving cars are expected to change the face of public transportation. There is also a chance that fewer people will own vehicles once they have access to affordable transportation anytime they want it.
Another way that self-driving vehicles can help with congestion is by making it possible for people to use their time more wisely. Today, if you are stuck in a traffic jam, you have little to do but stare at the back of the car in front of you. In a self-driving vehicle, however, you can use any time spent sitting in traffic doing other things such as working on your computer or reading a book.
These vehicles also have the ability to maximize fuel efficiency by driving together with other self-driving vehicles in a line. This helps decrease drag, increasing fuel efficiency as a result.
Disadvantage: A Possible Increase In Traffic
One concern about self-driving vehicles is that they may be so convenient that they discourage people from using traditional forms of public transportation. Another potential problem with these vehicles is that they may be in such high demand that they experience a great deal of wear and tear during their time on the road, causing them to break down more frequently.
Honda recently released a concept car called the NeuV. This small electric vehicle uses cutting-edge technology such as an engine equipped with artificial intelligence and a personal assistant. This can allow people to interact with their vehicle in a whole new way, opening the door for new opportunities and improved customer satisfaction.
Advantage: Less Wasted Space For Parking
Think about the vast amount of land that is designated for parking. According to the report from IBI, there are as many as eight parking spots available for every single vehicle in North America. That comes out to as much as 1,300 square feet of parking space per car. Another interesting statistic is that most vehicles are only driven 5% of the time. The rest of the time, they are parked. The next time you are in a city, look around at all of the parking lots, parking garages, and designated parking areas to see just how much space is being wasted.
Self-driving vehicles can help eliminate this problem – especially when they are used in a public transportation or ridesharing capacity. For instance, a self-driving vehicle that acts as a taxi would be on the road all day and wouldn’t need to be parked.
Even if they do have downtime between picking people up and dropping them off, they usually won’t need to be parked for long periods of time. When the need for parking declines, the space that is currently dedicated to parking can be used in a way that is more beneficial. Whether that means building additional residential housing, adding more commercial space, or creating parks or other recreation areas, imagine what could be done with all of the space that is currently dedicated to parking.
As ride-sharing with driverless vehicles becomes more popular, people also may start owning fewer vehicles. This also decreases the need for parking.
Disadvantage: An Increase In Urban Sprawl
If self-driving vehicles are too affordable, convenient, and reliable, people may purchase their own instead of using taxis or ride-sharing services. This could lead to an increase in urban sprawl. Cities may also lose a lot of income since they won’t be able to ticket as many vehicles for parking illegally.
Advantage: An Inexpensive Way To Get Around
One of the benefits of using driverless vehicles rather than traditional taxis or ridesharing services is that there is no need to pay or tip the driver. Using these services is also expected to be less expensive than owning a vehicle. These cars also provide commuters with a quick, convenient way to get to work – even if other forms of public transportation are bogged down. Read here- Intelligentcarleasing.com have done a lot of work on this.
Disadvantage: Costly Infrastructure Changes
Before driverless vehicles can truly be integrated into current cities, changes need to be made to the underlying infrastructure. In most cases, the biggest change involves creating dedicated lanes for autonomous vehicles. Other changes like adding transmitters to traffic lights and signs on the road or creating roundabouts to make navigating easier for these vehicles also may be necessary.
These types of changes tend to be quite expensive. In most cases, taxpayers will have to bear the brunt of the cost. Most people are not overly thrilled with the idea of having to pay additional taxes to fund these infrastructure changes – especially since they can be quite costly.
The overall perception of driverless vehicles also needs to change before they become more mainstream. People have a hard time trusting that vehicles without drivers are safe. Until people are more willing to accept this type of technology, there may always be a backlash against these vehicles.