Driverless Cars: The New Future(?)


Jay Park, Staff Writer

  There are only a few things that irritate me online. Flashy, in-your-face advertisements and clickbait titles, but none of them triumph the blessed public service announcements about safe driving. They are characterized by the black-and-white film and dramatic music and act out a scripted car accident, caused by the recklessness of the driver. These always manage to drag my day down. It’s a common sense that should be engraved in the very heart of our conscience next to the holy commandment to not to murder, but in our careless society, it is blatantly ignored. You are driving a 4,000 pound vehicle that, at a moment’s notice, could easily crash into the numerous vehicles near you or slam into nearby pedestrians. On what notion would you take your phone out or drive intoxicated? This human ignorance continued for too long, and so many lives have been ended abruptly as a result. We need a different solution, something that doesn’t allow mistakes.

  Even though not one company has produced a single flawless driverless car, many big name companies such as Google, Uber, and even Apple has entered this race. This brings up the question: Why?

  Autonomous cars could, in theory, solve the biggest problem with cars today: accidents. A human driver’s focus shifts constantly, and only takes into account what he or she is doing. If steering left, the driver checks the turn for any obstacles in his or her path and proceeds to turn. The computer, however, will factor everything. It will scan the surrounding area for nearby car systems that may not even be in the car’s line of sight and will spot moving pedestrians and account all the details into its course in a fraction of a second.

It's battery powered!
It’s battery powered!

  The job of computer has always been straightforward: calculate what is given and solve it at lightspeed regardless of the size of the problem. Implementing this into a vehicle that must always be aware of its surroundings can make mistakes nonexistent since the mistakes that will occur will be human errors, such as faulty car parts and incorrect calculations. However, once that is fixed, the errorless computation of machines will never make a mistake.

  Google’s Self-Driving Car Project provided that 94 percent of car accidents are human errors. Over 12 million accidents, 6.6 of them are fatal. With the assistance of technology, we could lower these incidents by 90 percent. This statistic along with the leisure to use driving time to do whatever you want is almost seems too good to be real.

  Lives aren’t the only thing that autonomous cars are going to save. Analysts predicts that the futuristic world will already be a place of crowdedness. In your lifetime, the world population will double. Imagine having your home being physically split in half so that other people can live in it. In such a cramped scenario, one can only imagine how impractical it is to have twice the number of cars clogging up the world. Space will be a luxury for many, and this is where driverless cars can mitigate the problem. In our daily lives, a majority of us ride a car to many places around town including school. Transportation  could now be accessible by an on-demand vehicle:the driverless car. Resembling a personal taxi, it would be an affordable and efficient alternative to the bulky and extravagant personal cars.

  Parking lots will no longer be as necessary, along with heavy traffic congestion on busy roads. Driverless cars will constantly be in use and won’t have downtime, meaning they won’t take up idle space. A large system of driverless cars could manage a neighborhood in its everyday destinations and visits, and long distance travelling could be managed by a train or a plane. Such an ideal world could be possible very soon.

Of course, these cars will not be instant. Forecasts predict that it may become relevant in decades. The reality is that it will be slow transition, but it is a transition that must happen. Only 50 years ago, we did not have to worry about accidents killing millions every year, but we ourselves have created this enormous problem. The solution is definite and should be supported by all. Maybe we could stop vehicular manslaughter all together. Or maybe we could help lessen the damage of an unstoppable growing population. But in the end, I know that, for sure, obvious PSAs on safe driving will stop.