The Perspective on Self Driving Cars

By Lee Mesika
When speaking of autonomous cars today, you can’t help but bring up major companies like Google or Tesla. The two have almost become synonymous brands with self-driving cars, yet the race to obtaining a complete self-driving car is shared by many other companies. With all this competition it looks as if the end result is inevitable, but are these self-driving cars all that good? Here are three arguments why we should continue and pursue self-driving cars and three arguments why it’s not such a great idea.


Pro self-driving cars


The root of most accidents:

Ninety percent of motor vehicle crashes are caused by (insert drumroll please) a human error or mistake made while on the wheel. Whether it be texting and driving, DUI, road rage or any other distraction one may face while driving, it is safe to say that the main contributor to car accidents is the driver himself. Self-driving cars remove the need of a driver by using GPS units and sensors, giving the car the ability to be aware of its surroundings while simultaneously planning the rest of the drive. By allowing a system that never gets distracted, falls asleep or speeds to take over, we can assume that there will be a lot less accidents than the current 5.25 million a year in the USA alone.


Time saving:

Ask Gail Devers, who won Olympic Gold in 1992 by .01 seconds, how important time is. Ask an elder you know how important time is. You can even ask Google.  We can all agree that time is a pretty big deal.

By using autonomous cars we can use the drives, which previously required our undivided attention, to our benefit. You can take advantage of a long drive for making up sleep, attending emails, online shopping- the possibilities are endless.



 Autonomous cars can actually help you save cash

Due to a decline in accidents, insurance rates will drop substantially and far fewer vehicles will need expensive repairs.

These cars are programmed to drive in the most efficient way possible. What does this mean? More fuel-efficient cars (less gas usage.) With this new technology, many companies are even shifting towards electric autonomous vehicles, almost totally eliminating the need for gas.

Transportation and shipping will become cheaper due to fuel efficiency and no longer needing to pay driver salaries.



Against self driving-cars



 Being completely reliant on technology is not always a good thing. We hear about hacking on the news almost on a daily basis. Phone’s, websites, companies, classified information- all are prone to hacking. Autonomous cars are no different. Charlie Miller, a leader in the field of protecting against these car hacks says, “Cars are already insecure, and you’re adding a bunch of sensors and computers that are controlling them…If a bad guy gets control of that, it’s going to be even worse.”

This problem doesn’t only affect the cars that have personal. There are plans for total autonomous public transportation (cabs and buses.) If these are hacked, the potential threat can be huge, impacting many individuals at once.


Impact on other industries:

Autonomous cars will have a huge impact on other fields.

In the long term, the need for a license may no longer be required, eliminating the need for Driver’s Ed courses/programs.

There will no longer be a need for cab drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers- all driving related jobs in general. Due to the projection of a decrease in accidents auto repair shops and insurance companies will also feel the negative impact

Ultimately, these autonomous cars will bring to a decline or even collapse of many industries, estimated at impacting over 4 million jobs that are directly related to driving (not including the rippling effect.)



Ethical dilemmas:

A mother and her new-born son are in autonomous vehicle traveling down a main road. Suddenly, a child runs into the road ahead, directly in the car’s path. There are 2 options: the car swerves to the side of the road into a barrier (killing the passengers but leaving the child unharmed) or stay on its current path, where it will kill the child, but the passenger will be unharmed. What will/should the car do?

The answer to this ethical question is important because it could have a big impact on the way self-driving cars are accepted in society. Studies show that people prefer that these cars follow utilitarian ethics, but when asked what ethics should their personal car follow the answer changed to “protect passengers at all costs.”

As of now, there are no laws regarding which way these cars should act, and the decision is in the hands of manufacturers. From this arises another question; will the car manufacturer be held accountable in an event of an moral dilemma?


Bottom Line:

Autonomous cars are coming to driveways near you in the upcoming future. They will help simplify our lives and even save us some cash. With their coming, we will see the fall of certain industries and will be faced with tough moral questions.

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