Are Self-Driving Cars the Answer to Our Problems?

By "our problems" we mean things that (can) affect us, petrolheads, as well as regular car commuters and basically every person who uses a car to go from A to B in the city or outside it.
Mercedes-Benz Luxury in Motion 1 photo
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
You can include here traffic jams, car crashes and so on, you get the picture. Now, the auto industry seems to be focusing on two main directions, which, like it or not, are dictated by the big-shot carmakers out there.

On one hand, we have the electric/hybrid current, led by companies like Tesla Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet and BMW. On the other hand, there's this automotive industry endeavour towards autonomous cars, which is gaining more and more momentum in recent times.

A few days ago, it culminated with Audi, BMW and Daimler buying Nokia's HERE Maps division. Now, think about this. Neither of the three giants is strange to autonomous technology, in its let's say primitive form. Audi has the RS7 piloted driving concept, BMW is working on a car that can drift all by itself while Mercedes-Benz already made the first step out of the egg with the F 015 Luxury in Motion self-driving prototype.

So what does their recent joint acquisition tell us? Well, that's one clue that the car industry will have to change.

Let's presume that Peak Car is a mirage and humanity will have fully functional self-driving cars by, let's say, 2030. We've already discussed how autonomous tech will make future cars virtually unrecognizable, but I am talking about the bigger picture here.

How will they change the traffic in the cities? I mean, car2car communication is almost a reality, and I think this technology will play a big role in the development of autonomous cars.

Why? That's simple. Because a self-driving car will still have to rely on info to work in safe conditions. Therefore, cars exchanging various info on weather conditions, road works or parking space availability will shed some stress off our minds, no doubt about that.

So even if the car still does the driving by itself, the passengers won't have to worry, in theory, about patches of ice, or poorly signalled intersections, for example because their car will be able to avoid those and, therefore, dodge a potential dangerous situation.

Traffic lights will be better synchronized, busy crossroads won't become massive dead ends during rush hours and we could say goodbye to reckless driving, fender benders, road rage or any other type of disturbing incidents.

All in all, this means we'll have to worry less about how we get from A to B, but that's only on paper. Are we ready to let machines and computers fully control the way we travel?

We bet there's more than one answer to that question. Sure, computers are not error-free and never will be.

But as you know, Google claim their self-driving cars - over 20 if you're interested in numbers - covered one million miles (that's 1,600,000 kilometers for those across the pond) in full self-driving mode, while only 11 incidents were recorded. Here comes the part you really need to hear: not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.

So, is this soothing your fear of letting self-driving cars handle your safety? Your opinion is important, because fully autonomous vehicles will become a reality eventually, and we need to decide between rejecting them or embracing them.
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