How Will driverless cars change our lives?

Over the past few months, we’ve seen the disruption of so many institutions and businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Now that the dreadful disease is quickly spreading among nations to nations, most governments and health sectors are implementing lockdowns and self-isolation protocols to prevent the further spread of the contagious disease.

As a result of this pandemic, most business sectors all around the world are facing great loss. Among the many sectors, driving school businesses are one of the most terribly damaged because of this emerging pandemic-accompanied with the cancellation of driving tests, driving classes, motorcycle tests, etc. The prevalent reason for this is because driving school involves physical contact and close proximity activities, which contradicts the social distancing regulation imposed by the government and major health sectors.

What are driverless cars?

We’re living in a fast-paced and modern generation where everything is possible with the help of technology. And in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are in constant search for ways that could help them adapt with these strict preventive protocols. One of the most promising technologies innovation is driverless cars.

Nowadays Most modern vehicles have some level of automation, they offer advanced systems such as adaptive cruise control, and self-parking capabilities becoming increasingly stander.

driverless car refers to all vehicles which have higher levels of automation, starting from the point where a driver may not need their hands on the steering wheel but is ready to take over control, right through to where no driver assistance is needed. It uses a variety of technologies to monitor their surroundings, such as radar, laser light, GPS, odometry, and computer vision.

The hype for these driverless cars has been massively increasing as people see it as a great alternative to the exposure-risky and crowded public transportations.

“The coronavirus pandemic has increased the opportunity and need for automation in almost every industry, including autonomous driving.”

More and more self-driving vehicle companies are coming out of the market. As a matter of fact, Google has launched a division called Waymo for its driverless cars. The idea of driverless cars is simple, it involves point A to point B transportation without the need for human contact.

Are self-driving cars safe?

According to Investopedia, driverless cars are expected to be safer than the traditional cars since these driverless cars won’t drive too fast, drunk drive or basically the things that people tend to do. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Center of Insurance Law and Regulations at Santa Clara University School of Law, 90% of the street accidents today accounts to the driver’s errors.

On the other hand, self-driving cars are less likely to be prone to accidents. Thus, will make the insurance costs drastically fall overtime. These automotive cars are designed to size up a free parking spot that will allow it to safely self-park itself. The driver will only have to control the brake pedals and the accelerator, making it more sensor-based.

Advantages of driverless cars:

  • reduces the risk for drug or alcohol-related accidents
  • reduces emission and improves fuel efficiency
  • driverless cars are designed with a system that will help in finding the fastest route
  • reduces fatalities and car crashes in the roads

Disadvantages of driverless cars:

  • errors in the system may lead to accidents
  • operators of the driverless vehicle may get distracted
  • system security may be hacked and the private information of the owner may be stolen
  • unanticipated system malfunction may occur
driverless cars

Could driverless vehicles completely replace regular cars?

Before the whole COVID-19 pandemic, most people are sceptical about the idea of a driverless car. However, right now, more and more people are realizing that these driverless cars can help alleviate the problems faced by the delivery services, whilst reducing the risk of exposure for the citizens.

It is a given fact that more and more people are accepting the idea of a driverless car. However, there is still an ongoing debate about whether these self-driving cars can completely replace traditional and regular cars. Right now, there is no way to be 100% sure about what the future holds. For as we all know, despite the emergence of regular cars, there are still a lot of people who use horses as a means of transportation in some rural areas.

But one thing’s for sure, driverless cars will greatly increase in number as it poses a lot of features that promote safety and convenience.

What are the levels of autonomous vehicles?

Here are the five levels of vehicle autonomy as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE):

Level 0 no automation

The driver is responsible for all the driving tasks only basic features are introduced such as automated emergency braking and blind-spot warnings 

Level 1 automation (driver assistance)

There are some driver assistance system provided such as acceleration, lane changes or cruise control.

Level 2 automation (partial automation)

Advanced autopilot system or cruise control that lets the vehicle to take safety actions in times of need-an example of this would be emergency braking.

Level 3 automation (conditional automation)

The vehicle can perform a couple of safety-critical functions by itself in certain situations. This level still needs a human driver, but with less effort.

Level 4 automation (high automation)

The vehicle can drive itself for almost all the time without the need of a driver. However, it may require human assistance when severe weathers occur, or when going to unmapped destinations.

Level 5 automation (full automation)

fully automated in all conditions.

Most of the more advanced ADS-enabled vehicles that have been released fall into the Level 2 and Level 3 designations, while commercially available vehicles with true Level 4 functionality are still in the development and testing phases

driverless cars

Will you need a driving license for a driverless car?

The answer for this prevailing question lies on the level of automation your self-driving vehicle is. For the level 1 automation (driver assistance), you’ll still be needing to have a driving license since it involves some sort of assistance all throughout the process in order to get from point A to point B. Which leads to the conclusion that there is still a need for a driving license.

On the other hand, for the 2nd to 4th level of automation, you should still keep your driving license. We can dispense our driving license when all cars are fully automated in all conditions (level 5 automation), where human assistance is no longer needed.

In Conclusion

As we fight with the current coronavirus disease, it is especially important to comply with the safety protocols imposed by the government and health sectors. It is in times like this where driverless cars can add greater value than the regular means of transportation. The primary reason for this is because it is seen as a great alternative to the exposure-risky and crowded public transportations.

Posted on Apr 17, 2020 by Sam

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How Will driverless cars change our lives?