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How Self Driving Cars may be Changing the future of the Road

How Self Driving Cars may be Changing the future of the Road - News

The more you drive, the more it starts to feel like second nature. If you’ve been driving for years, chances are, you’ll drive to a destination and not have had a serious thought about how you got there. Like most skills, it quickly becomes automatic. But where should we draw the line?

Although experiments have been occurring with self driving cars for a while, the technological capabilities have radically gone up a gear in recent years. With advances made in AI (artificial intelligence) and Tesla’s Elon Musk making a deal with a Chinese tech company*, we might not be that far away from self driving cars becoming mainstream.

And if we’re not, we should probably understand a little more about how they work and why they could radically alter our roads in the near future.

  • What are self driving cars and how they work

Self driving cars rely on a complex combination of AI, sensors, cameras, and radar to sustain an autonomous driving system that creates and maintains a map of the vehicle's surroundings, so that the vehicle can react and respond to the road ahead.

This in-built software not only reacts to the road and traffic conditions, but can send instructions to the car so the driver doesn’t have to think about breaking, accelerating or steering the vehicle.

Although a couple of decades ago, this technology may have sounded impossible, it’s becoming increasingly likely to be mainstream in the near future, and this isn’t restricted to the US or China. Recently, the UK’s transport secretary, Mark Harper, announced that self driving cars would be on the roads by 2026.**

But if they do become a feature on our roads soon, they open up a new experience of driving as it’s never been seen before.

  • How self driving cars could change driving for the better

Getting stuck in traffic is something that grinds every driver's gears. Accidents are unpredictable, but they can impact our day by making us late for work, or stressed from having a difficult drive.

However, self driving cars promise to remove all this as their clever technology helps to regulate traffic as vehicles travel at constant speeds in accordance with the road regulations. With automation and speed control, there will be no room for dodgy overtaking or speeding on the roads, which in turn could cause less accidents and improve traffic flow. 

Despite the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles, passenger cars are still a major polluter and contributor to increased CO2 emissions. As well as being able to make decisions and increase the flow of traffic, self driving cars are set to have lower emissions as the driving decisions are made by a machine, rather than a human.

Increased emissions are usually the result of rapid acceleration and excessive braking. With this style of driving removed from the automated system, less gas will be used resulting in a better environmental outlook.

Aside from the better mechanics and conditions of the environment promised with self driving cars, it may also open up driving to many people who can’t physically drive such as those who have particular disabilities.

Improving accessibility of driving is only ever a positive, however, self driving cars don’t come without their faults.

  • Despite the positives we need to be cautious

Last year, nearly 363,000 Tesla’s were recalled because their self driving systems were causing vehicles to crash at busy intersections.*** What's more, Tesla’s autopilot feature has already been linked to hundreds of crashes and deaths in the US alone.****

There’s evident reason to be cautious about these vehicles, especially when self driving technology is still in its infancy. But what might become a real cause of concern in the future is the reliance on AI to drive vehicles, and how easily this could be hacked by outside systems resulting in further accidents.

And when accidents do happen, who has the responsibility? The ‘driver’ of the vehicle, or the AI system that might be at fault? Currently, this is a bit of a grey area, as the legalities of having an accident and who is responsible haven’t become clear and remain matters of debate for insurance professionals.

As self driving cars may become closer to the norm and seen on roads near us in the future, it’s well worth taking a step back to think about if they can actually replace the enjoyment that comes with physically driving a car and the sense of satisfaction it can bring.

Although clever technology could make the driving experience smoother and safer, nothing can beat the thrilling, physical sensations of driving a car on the road.

If you’re keen to explore more driving opportunities, why not try a session in a Supercar? Driving Experiences boasts a range of vehicles from Lamborghinis to Ferraris for you to choose from, which promise to reignite your love for driving with thrills and adrenaline promised with every minute.

*-Sources: The New York Times**The Guardian***ars Technica****The Verge.

13 May 2024

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