Autonomous vehicles are just not here yet, but they might be a sure thing that is closer than we think. There are some exciting changes, apart from the main one: Autonomous driving, the autonomous vehicles could bring with them as the industry evolves.
The autonomous technology is not here, in its entirety, just as yet. We are still cruising in the Level 2 of automation standards, and those we know autonomous technology even a bit might know that there are 5 SAE Level of automation, with level five being the last, glorious level of fully automated, no human intervention, vehicles. Which means that there is still a reasonable time to wait. It is said that by 2030, 60% of US sales would be of the autonomous vehicles.
But the research in autonomous technology and its effects forecast a few changes that they will bring. We shall discuss 5 ways in which the self-driving technology will change our streets:
Drop in car ownership:
According to 2013 statistics, the number of vehicles an average American family own is 1.8. For many middle-class households purchasing a car is a sort ritual and is generally their second most expensive purchase. But with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, fewer people would opt to buy cars. With autonomous car sharing system, that will become a major way to transport for most people, the rate of car ownership would go down and our relationship with vehicles would reduce down to business purposes only.
Calling an autonomous vehicle sharing service like Uber to transport will be way cheaper than owning and maintaining a car. Tech giant Google has its own fleet of the autonomous car in testing that it will use to offer self-driving car service called Google Lyft.
Apple is also experimenting in this space. Mobileye has joined hands with BMW and Intel to develop autonomous car sharing business.
The number is already diminishing with carpool, ride-sharing services that are being offered even today.
Reduced vehicle congestion:
Now, if after the onset of autonomous cars vehicle ownership would go down and car sharing services would increase, it would give rise to a reduced number of cars on road. This will have the biggest, positive impact on parking problems. Survey says there are about 253 million cars and trucks on US roads at a time. And all these vehicles would be stationed and parked somewhere while the owner completes his job or errand, eating up the parking space. If the person could hire an autonomous car to their destination and on reaching could let the car go and find other passengers to drop at different locations. This would bring down the number of cars required and the subsequent requirement of parking those vehicles.
This change would also considerably bring improvement to the traffic situation we face. Autonomous Cars have the technology to communicate with other cars and spread information about traffic situations. They can avoid traffic jams with all the information available to them.
Dip in the bad effects on the environment:
We are all aware of the deadly effects of the harmful gases petrol and diesel vehicles emit. Though we can say that the scenario is improving with strict emission standards that are being put in place and with the rise of electric and hybrid vehicles owing to the increasing awareness fossil fuel vehicles have on the environment and on people’s health. Carmakers are spending millions to develop vehicles that are compliant with the emission norms and are of the clean fuel kind.
We can expect that with the development of autonomous technology, cleaner and affordable versions of vehicles would be available. Also, with the reduction of the number of vehicles on road, their impact on the environment would also reduce. Even if autonomous vehicles reduce 10% of the number of vehicles globally it would result in the elimination of 100 million vehicles from the road. Imagine all the harmful emission this would spare the earth.
Roads would become safe:
According to the statistics, one out of every six Labour who looses their life on their jobs is truck drivers. Driving is said to be of the few dangerous jobs in the world. We can hope that autonomous tech can make driving safer. The autonomous vehicles are said to be better drivers than humans. Its razor sharp and quick sensors, it’s brain that collects and stores data of millions of miles and then uses it for decision making and superhuman driving skills make it a safer option than humans.
To back such statements are the thousands of miles long test drives that carmakers are carrying out with their autonomous fleets. Google’s Waymo it’s autonomous fleet drove 6,36,000 miles with just 124 disengagements. Other carmakers like General Motors, Tesla, are also sending their autonomous cars on road to test their safety.
Autonomy of industrial vehicles:
Vehicles that will be used for to driving on the road need much high level of safety features that will take care of aspects like riding safely on the road, protecting pedestrians, minding other vehicles on the road, etc, hence, they still have a long way to go before we can trust human lives in their hands. But immense technological advances are already being done when it comes to industrial vehicles like tractors, earthmovers, bulldozers.
These industrial vehicles will be ready with to be used with autonomous tech in them before the on-road vehicles.