5 Things You Need To Know About Driverless Cars


Photo credit: Qilai Shei/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

The state of Washington is moving forward with testing driverless cars after Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order on June 8 allowing for such technology to be tested in the next couple of months.

"We humans are really good at a lot of things, driving cars isn’t necessarily one of them compared to the automated processes that are digital and foolproof," Inslee told The Seattle Times.

Here are five things you need to know about driverless cars:

1. Driverless cars could save lives. The Atlantic has estimated that driverless cars could save 300,000 American lives in 10 years since the vast majority of accidents are caused by human error, which driverless cars would correct. It is also conjectured that driverless cars will one day communicate with each other in order to prevent accidents, such as providing a warning when "a driver brakes suddenly, or makes a blind turn" and even take measures to prevent an accident: (H/T: The Atlantic)

Within a few years, cars may be able to determine when an accident is likely and make adjustments to the cabin — moving seats, closing windows, retracting the steering wheel.

Even better than preparing for a crash, of course, is preventing one. Some vehicles emit warnings when they detect, via cameras and sensors, that a driver is getting drowsy. Future cars might take over for sleepy drivers — or automatically pull to the side of the road and shut down. Biometrics could aid this process. If a car has sensors that can measure a driver’s respiration and heart rate, it could shift into self-driving mode when a driver has a heart attack or passes out.

2. Driverless cars could also reduce traffic congestion. The Guardian quoted a couple of experts pointing out that a reduction in accidents would reduce traffic congestion; additionally, the "less braking and accelerating" that comes with driverless cars will allow traffic to "flow more smoothly."

3. It is believed that driverless cars will hit the market somewhere between 2020 and 2025.There could be a setback in that timeframe if a highly-publicized fatality occurs due to a driverless car, which would likely happen when driverless cars are still being mixed in with cars that aren't driverless.

4. It is also believed that by 2030, there will be a higher likelihood of people using a ride-sharing service rather than owning a car. FiveAI CEO Stan Boland told The Guardian:

Imagine an Uber-like service you can summon at the touch of a button, but without a driver. Renting is not necessarily the right word — consumers will buy a service like using an Uber today, but with a wider range of vehicle configurations to suit different types of travel — family outings, long-distance sleeper travel, or shared commutes.

5. The city of Pittsburgh welcomed Uber with open arms to first test their driverless cars there. Pittsburgh now regrets it. This is due to Uber reportedly promising to offer driverless car rides for free yet still charged consumers and failed to produce the jobs they promised. Uber has also recently been mired in controversy while Lyft, on the other hand, recently scoreda $25 million investment for driverless cars.

Other states that have allowed for driverless car testing include California and New York, while states like Iowa have allowed for testing of driverless tractors.



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