You’ve probably heard about Google’s self-driving car project, and that one of its cars had an accident last month, hitting a bus. If you’re thinking this will slow the tide towards driverless cars, think again. The accident was minor, and probably would have occurred anyhow, as the test driver in the car choose not to intervene, making the same decision as the car’s software about the intentions of the approaching bus. In fact, the software in driverless cars makes more conservative decisions and better calculations than people do, and studies have suggested that such cars could reduce accidents and lower traffic fatalities by an astounding 80 percent.
Another benefit is that if you don’t need to drive a car, all of your decisions about car travel will change. You will be able to get anywhere faster, because with everything automated, you will take less congested routes and spend less time sitting at traffic lights, since the computers that communicate traffic conditions and traffic light switches will be interfaced with your car’s software. If no one is driving, you’ll actually have fewer cars on the road also, because people will be sharing cars; in fact, the interior of the car will be redesigned to make it more like a diner on a train. Everything related to cars and driving will get cheaper; insurance, since the accident rate will plummet, fuel, since these cars will likely be electric, and parking, since fewer cars on the road means space is no longer at a premium.
Around 90 percent of Americans are skeptical about self-driving cars, according to a university survey, but this is no doubt due to a lack of familiarization. The future is already here. Just this month, the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved Google’s self-driving car system as a recognized driver. Google expects to begin marketing its product by 2017, and it’s a foregone conclusion that the automotive industry will follow suit in the next few years.