Driverless Cars: the future is out of our hands

Despite the fact that so many people seem against the advent of driverless cars, they are daily becoming a reality. By 2040 it is estimated there will be over 30 million self-driving vehicles sold annually globally. Certainly they are geared to disrupt and revolutionise the way people get around. Driverless vehicles exist and are being tested for a host of services, such as fleet services, package delivery, ridesharing, and freight transportation.

Safety is the name of the game. Tech companies and auto-makers need to be laser-focused on safety while racing to be the first to produce a truly safe and affordable vehicle. While driverless cars have been lauded as innovations that will cut down on road accidents, traffic time, and the hassle of driving, there are many people concerned with regard to the negative consequences they see emerging from this brave new future.

The negative impact

Unemployment

People who earn their living from driving vehicles will lose their jobs. This could include taxi drivers, truck drivers, chauffeurs, bus drivers, and delivery vehicle drivers. Taken together this represents millions of jobs lost worldwide. This will include all the supplementary jobs such as supervisory, administrative, management, and other support staff who will no longer be necessary. Many of these workers are classified as low-skilled workers, with their main skill being the ability to drive. It will be difficult for such unemployed workers to quickly find new work, and the cost of re-training them could be high.

Hackers taking over the computer of the self-driving vehicle

This sounds almost science fiction or something out of a movie, but it is possible that hackers could target a particular vehicle’s computer system, and hack in and take over the vehicle. A driverless car would be entirely controlled by computer hardware and software, and therefore is it possible that a malicious cybercriminal could exploit security holes in any number of complex systems to take over a car or even cause it to crash purposefully. Likewise, driverless cars will be connected by networks in order to communicate, and an attack on such networks could cause chaos on the roads.

The decline of the auto industry

If you don’t need to drive a car, and can call a driverless car from a shared fleet, what would be the point of actually buying a car? Why own an expensive machine with high maintenance and prone to breaking down when you can simply summon a driverless car to take you wherever you please upon request? If private car ownership becomes less popular, it would have a dire impact on the current status of the auto industry, representing the loss of many jobs both directly and indirectly.

The decline of vehicle insurance

Car insurance relies on the fact that cars driven by humans are bound to have a fair percentage of accidents – enough to keep the insurers in business. But driverless cars firstly have no driver to insure, and secondly are punted to have safety levels way higher than vehicles controlled by humans. Driverless cars promise to greatly reduce the occurrence of both risks, as well as accidents involving pedestrians. The result is that the cost of insurance will collapse as the risks associated with human driving are eliminated by technology.

The value proposition

  • Saving lives: It is estimated that thousands of lives will saved. Vehicle collisions may be reduced by up to 90%. Research suggests that driverless cars will be near perfect by 2035.
  • Ridesharing: There are already test self-driving ridesharing services on the roads. In test mode, vehicles still have safety drivers behind the wheel, but the service is an early indicator that autonomous ridesharing is on its way.
  • Delivery services: Package delivery is a huge market. Driverless cars would save the industry a lot of money. Delivery companies are always looking for faster and cheaper ways to make deliveries. Quite a significant percentage of self-driving car sales have already been sold to delivery services.
  • Disabled drivers: It will make cars accessible for disabled or elderly people, and therefore hugely contribute to their greater independence.
  • Drunk driving: There will be fewer incidences of drunken driving and road rage.
  • Extending work time: It will enable people to undertake productive work while in the car.
  • Cleaner environment: The cars will no doubt be electric or hybrids, and therefore the environment will benefit from fewer pollutant emissions.

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