Self-driving cars are coming. You can’t avoid it. Even if you’re not a car enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about how self-driving cars will revolutionize transportation. But at the same time, they’re still just a novelty, one that people want to ride in but aren’t necessarily ready to get behind the wheel themselves.
Who’s right? Are we ready for this new technology? To answer this question, let’s explore what the future of transportation might look like and how close we are to getting there.
Are We Ready for a Self-Driving Car Future?
If you’re wondering if we can handle self-driving cars, the answer is a definite maybe. According to Mordor Intelligence, the U.S. autonomous car market is expected to grow gradually in the coming years. While valued at around $3.51 billion in 2021, the market is expected to reach a whopping $9.36 billion by 2027. The numbers hint that the demand for self-driving cars will increase gradually.
Autonomous car technology is still in its infancy, and there are plenty of unknowns surrounding its potential impact on society. And while self-driving cars may be safer than conventional ones, they’re not without their problems.
Riding in a Self-Driving Car Is Still a Novelty
Many people are still getting used to riding in self-driving cars. In fact, many people are still nervous about riding in a self-driving car. They’re also excited about it but are surprised when they ride in a self-driving car.
The J.D. Power 2022 Mobility Confidence Index found that over 75% of consumers are looking to get additional information on how autonomous car technology meets government regulations to feel comfortable with driving them.
Lawmakers Are Struggling to Keep Up With the Technology
Lawmakers are struggling to keep up with the technology. Many states have passed laws regulating self-driving cars, but there is a lot of uncertainty about where these vehicles can be driven and how they should be tested.
Moreover, a recent report shows that there have been around 400 accidents involving autonomous cars. Since these self-driving cars have both technology and drivers involved, there is still a lack of clarity around who is at fault in a car accident involving a driverless car. Who will be responsible for the damages, the drivers or the manufacturers?
Each type of vehicle has its own challenges. Some autonomous features are already widely available in modern cars, while others are still brand new. The state laws passed vary widely based on what type of system they cover. Some explicitly exclude certain types of vehicles, while others don’t mention them.
Some Drivers Won’t Go Along for the Ride
Self-driving cars would be a nightmare for those who don’t trust the technology or fear it. Some drivers won’t go along for the ride. According to a CarGurus survey, 78% of consumers are uncomfortable with the idea of putting a loved one in an autonomous vehicle.
Some people are more comfortable with human drivers because they can’t program their GPS or think it will make them safer in an emergency. Still, others may not want to give up their vehicles, not even when they’re on cruise control.
The Technology Needs to Improve Before It Can Become Standard
But the technology is still in its infancy, and it needs to be able to handle all the different scenarios that a car can encounter. This means inclement weather and other challenging environmental conditions, like snow or rain. Also, self-driving vehicles need to be able to behave at high speeds on highways, and this isn’t something that can happen overnight.
Also, better cybersecurity measures must be implemented, so hackers don’t gain access to these vehicles’ systems and cause chaos on the roads.
Plenty of Unknowns About Self-Driving Cars
Self-driving cars can help make traffic jams a thing of the past. They’ll also travel more efficiently, allowing them to use less fuel and save us money at the pump. On top of this, they’ll remove human error from driving by making decisions based on algorithms rather than human emotion or instinct. The potential benefits of self-driving cars are enormous.
However, there are also drawbacks and risks associated with self-driving cars. These things must be considered before we all start trading in our traditional vehicles for an autonomous daily ride to work.
The first concern is security. If hackers can take control of your car remotely (via hacking into its computer system), it becomes much easier for them to steal your car or even kill you inside it. ENISA, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, has warned that automated vehicles are vulnerable to hacking.
Another issue is that self-driving cars can still crash sometimes. In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics showing that automakers reported 392 crashes of vehicles with partially automated driver-assist systems.
How the Future of Self-Driving Cars Look
Self-driving cars are not going to take over the world overnight. In fact, it could be decades before they become most people’s primary mode of transportation. Here’s why:
- Self-driving cars will be expensive. Most experts expect that these vehicles will be far too pricey for most consumers in their current form. They’ll also likely be a novelty item for many years, meaning self-driving cars aren’t likely to become common on the road until they’ve undergone significant price drops and cost reductions.
- Safety concerns remain an issue with self-driving cars. While testing has shown promising results in terms of safety, critics argue that some accidents may not have occurred if a human had been behind the wheel instead of an autonomous vehicle (AV). These concerns aren’t just limited to human error. Researchers say AVs could make mistakes or misinterpret information due to faulty sensors or other hardware issues.
Self-driving cars are not here yet, but they will be soon. Technology is improving rapidly, and several companies are racing to get their models on the road. However, some serious questions still need answering before they become standard.
Once technology advances and autonomous car accidents decline, these cars will become mainstream. The increase in demand and production will also bring down the costs.