Fully autonomous cars dominating our roads may seem like a scene from a futuristic sci-fi film, but we are closer to this becoming reality than you may wish to believe.
Driverless cars have remained a thing of the distant future for some years, but the Department for Transport (DfT) has said the first self-driving cars could be ready for use on UK roads this year.
Should we be nervous or excited about this development? There are both pros and cons to consider.
- Reduced human error
“Algorithms can’t get drunk, drowsy or distracted,” said the BBC. And, they’re right. This technology’s primary goal is to create safer vehicles than human-driven cars. Self-driving cars will keep a close eye on speed and maintain a safe distance from other moving cars. The DfT believes these automated cars could improve safety, with more than 85% of road accidents in the UK caused by human error.
- Fuel efficiency
Driverless vehicles could be better for our planet. Many models in the making run on electricity, and even the way they drive is beneficial. The BBC states, “They accelerate and brake more smoothly, which ultimately reduces exhaust pipe emissions.”
- Increased accessibility and independence
Automated vehicles could offer “life-changing benefits to people with disabilities.” They would also help older people deemed unsafe to drive ordinary cars on UK roads due to diminishing eyesight or mobility.
- Slow-moving traffic
Research by GreenBiz has indicated that it could encourage “a lot more driving in the US.” A lot more people (as assumed by those who weren’t able to drive previously will be able to) and longer distances. The first self-driving cars may have to remain in the slow lane, only reaching up to 37mph while in a single lane. Until technology progresses, these slow speeds could cause a problem or a lot of road rage!
- Hacking risks
We know from experience with desktop computers and mobile phones that all similar technology is at risk of being hacked. Unfortunately, it’s a “near-certainty that self-driving cars will be hacked, too.” The AI systems responsible for controlling autonomous vehicles are vulnerable to attacks that could compromise their function and pose a risk to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
- Different road variations
While a brand-new dual carriageway may be ideal for a driverless vehicle, narrow, winding lanes in rural areas, for example, could pose a challenge. Self-driving cars use radar, camera and laser-based guidance to navigate different environments safely. Still, the more complex the road, the more processing power is needed to understand it.
Do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? The answer at the moment is unclear – until these vehicles are on the road, we won’t know. However, as a garage, it will undoubtedly be interesting to learn how to service these automated cars in the future!
To speak to a member of the team or book in your vehicle, call us in Hunstanton on 01485 533786 or King’s Lynn on 01553 763763.
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