How Self Driving Cars could Benefit Us All

Alexander Gordon, Guest Contributor

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I’m sure we have all heard of self driving cars in sci-fi movies, books, and video games. But, believe it or not, there are actually many companies that are developing and testing their own self-driving car technologies such as Google, Uber, Tesla, GM, Ford, BMW, and Apple. Most of these companies are saying that they want to have their cars ready by around 2020 with Uber already testing their car in Pittsburgh with a select few volunteers according to Business Insider writer Danielle Muoio.

What are the Benefits of Self Driving Cars? Well, for one, there is the environmental benefit. As reported by Time writer Justin Worland, “Cars could be programed to choose the most fuel efficient route. Federal rules could penalize cars that drive unoccupied or reward those who allow their vehicles to be used for ride-sharing.” So, using an AI to choose the most efficient fuel route, taking into account all the roads, stop signs, stop lights, and more, drivers could reduce the amount of fuel spent while driving, which would help the environment significantly if all or most of the vehicles on the road were automatic.

Another potential benefit to self driving cars is the massive amount of lives it could save every year. As stated in the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) website. 37,000 people die in a car accident every year in the U.S. and 2.35 million or injured or disabled. That is an insane amount of deaths, and since around 90% (according to Bryant Walker Smith of Stanford Law School)  of car accidents are due to human error (alcohol, texting, not paying attention, etc), if we just took the human out of the equation, since robots do not sleep, talk or get distracted, and have way better reaction time, deaths from accidents could drop significantly.

But, like everything, self driving cars could have a bad side. The biggest con of automated vehicles is the loss of jobs for the people who work in transportation.

The first problem, loss of jobs, is a pretty bad one. In 2014, 233,700 people were working as a taxi driver or similar, as well as 1,797,000 people working as truck drivers (as stated in Bureau for Labour Statistics). So, if self-driving cars became a standard for transporting things around the country over 2 million people would lose their jobs. But there is some hope! When big industries in the past became automated (like the discovery of the printing press and the powered loom) they took away millions of jobs, however new jobs ended up being created even after huge swathes of jobs were closed off. Hopefully if we do get self driving cars, this will be the way to solve that problem!

 

 

Danielle Muoio. “19 companies racing to put self-driving cars on the road by 2021.” Business Insider. 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-making-driverless-cars-by-2020-2016-10>

Justin Worland. “Self-Driving Cars Could Help Save the Environment—Or Ruin It. It Depends on Us.” Time.com. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://time.com/4476614/self-driving-cars-environment/>

Here. “Human error as a cause of vehicle crashes.” Cyberlaw.stanford.edu. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2013/12/human-error-cause-vehicle-crashes>

N.a. “Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Bls.gov. 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm>

 

Image

 

Wickerham, Jared. Uber introduces first self driving car in Pittsburgh. Digital image. Chicago Tribune. N.p., 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://www.chicagotribune.com/bluesky/technology/ct-uber-self-driving-car-pittsburgh-20160818-story.html>.

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