Nothing says the ‘future is here’ more than a driverless car. Once a staple of sci-fi, these vehicles are now becoming a reality as more and more manufacturers jump on board the self-driving bandwagon by creating workable prototypes.
The end goal of driverless vehicles is to have a completely automated method of travel that removes the human element from driving, which can be the cause of devastating crashes when high speeds are involved. While this is a decidedly noble pursuit, there stand many obstacles in the way of self-driving cars as they zoom towards the modern marketplace.
Many Drivers Take a Negative View
While much has been said about the demand for self-driving cars in the past few years, the fact remains that most consumers are not exactly sold on the idea. This was illustrated by a recent study which showed that the majority of drivers’ polled disliked the idea of fully automated vehicles.
These numbers are bound to put a damper on the push towards self-driving vehicles, which is currently being undertaken by a number of companies, including luxury automakers. Despite offering benefits like increased safety on the road and lessened environmental impact, most drivers prefer to be in charge when behind the wheel.
Ethical Concerns Play a Role
Though it is a slightly more esoteric subject, the concept of self-driving vehicles also raises a number of ethical concerns that unfortunately have no easy answers. This is particularly relevant when considering the type of split-second decisions a driver must make while on the road.
For instance, how will an automated vehicle contend with maneuvering to avoid one obstacle only to careen into another? How will the vehicle decide which option is superior, especially when human life is involved? These questions cannot simply be addressed by improved programming or technology, which makes them a major roadblock to seeing driverless vehicles in widespread use.
Accident Record Is Also a Factor
While self-driving vehicles are notably safe, the recent slew of accidents during initial testing has many consumers on edge. The majority of these accidents involved low impact rear-end damage, which is being blamed on distracted driving by other vehicles sharing the road.
However, novel situations could pose a risk to all drivers on the road should a self-driving vehicle fail to react in a reasonable way. Because it’s all but impossible to program a vehicle to anticipate every conceivable situation on the road, more significant crashes may occur eventually.
More Testing May Be Required
Thanks to emerging technology, driverless cars could very well be a standard method of travel in the future. Despite the many major developments to this end in recent years, it appears that most drivers are more than happy to take up the helm until such vehicles are deemed road-worthy across the board.