Driverless cars might soon become mainstream as more transport companies are considering employing the new technology or even doing their research. While the idea of no longer depending on manual navigation seems fairly attractive, one cannot dismiss the risks related to self-driving cars. The infrastructure as it is now is not precisely apt for the use of driverless vehicles en masse. Every human driver is well aware of how unpredictable road trips might be, even if he or she takes a familiar route.
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While the human brain is flexible and can process unanticipated events, hardware and software can only deal with the situations that they are programmed to handle. A sudden change of weather such as a storm or heavy rainfall might render a driverless car, if not useless, then at least erratic and potentially dangerous in its functioning. The main problem is that the technology might not be robust enough to consider all the possibilities. However, in the future, the application of machine learning might as well make driverless cars safer and their systems “smarter” in a way that they would mimic human reactions to unpredicted events.
Another way to make driverless cars safer is to render preliminary training obligatory. Humans tend to perform poorly when they think that they can depend on an automated system. Such an attitude is nothing unnatural, and yet, it might pose an accident risk. For instance, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, the fatal Tesla crash in Florida in 2016 was caused by the driver’s over-reliance on automation.
He grew unengaged and inattentive to the road, which resulted in the accident that took his life. Evidently, a self-driving car might be a completely new experience even for a skilled driver. He or she would still have to monitor the work of the system and report errors when necessary, which takes some time and effort. All this could be explained in specialized classes, which would be mandatory in order to gain a license to own a self-driving car.
A question arises as to whether driverless cars are even worth developing and deploying given the current challenges. There are definite benefits to owning a self-driving vehicle, such as the ability to do other things while commuting. A person no longer has to concentrate on the road and can manage his or her time more efficiently. Second, driverless cars might make the lives of the elderly and disabled much more manageable by helping them run their daily errands without depending on others. Nevertheless, people will only get to enjoy the advantages of this new technology after better design solutions are applied, and accurate testing is conducted.