Long confined to the world of science fiction, autonomous cars are gradually making their way into reality, and their manufacturers intend to democratize their use. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of self-driving cars? The main information to remember about these new-generation vehicles that are already on our roads.
What is an autonomous car?
As the name suggests, the autonomous car is a special type of motor vehicle capable of moving without human intervention in a normal driving environment thanks to a complex autopilot system.
How does an autonomous car work?
In order to be able to drive with perfect autonomy, self-driving cars have a large number of laser sensors, radars, and cameras on board to be able to understand their driving environment in three dimensions. These systems thus make it possible to include in the modeling generated by the vehicle. The devices related to horizontal and vertical signage are necessary to adopt a respectful driving of the Highway Code; also the obstacles potentially encountered, as well as the other users so that the autonomous car can adapt its movement according to the constraints exerted around it.
All decisions related to acceleration, braking, or even the use of turn signals are made by artificial intelligence based on the information sent by the various sensors. The artificial intelligence will activate different servos depending on the situations encountered in order to perform all the necessary actions depending on the driving situation faced by the vehicle.
Automotive technology at the service of road safety
The autonomous vehicle looks promising on paper, especially for drivers. They will be less exposed to the risk of accidents, fatal or not. The automation of electric vehicles will make it possible to drastically reduce them, the human driver being most often responsible for the accident. In Switzerland, 95% of road accidents are linked to human error. If it is surrounded by other smart cars, it will be even easier to limit the risk of collision.
Autonomous driving also has another great asset. As the driver will no longer need to drive, he will be more like a passenger behind the wheel. He can then do something else. This recovered time is not to be neglected, especially for people living in large cities facing traffic jams and also those making long journeys. It is for all these reasons that the automotive industry has embarked on this new flourishing market.
Advantages and disadvantages of the autonomous car
1. Reduce stress
Probably one of the greatest assets of self-driving cars. Who has never felt stress and fatigue in traffic jams? This will no longer have a reason to be. No more messing with the clutch while waiting for the road to clear. Instead, relax, grab a book, and quietly wait for your car to pull out of traffic on its own.
2. Limit the number of road accidents
Most traffic accidents are the result of human error. With self-driving cars, their number should drastically reduce for a very simple reason; they cannot get tired or distracted while driving.
According to one estimate, autonomous cars will be able to free up nearly 15% more parking spaces, thanks to different sensors and cameras. No more complaining about bad drivers who take two places instead of one!
4. More economical:
For a given trip, self-driving cars know exactly how much fuel to use. In addition, thanks to their integrated electronic system, they are able to predict the shortest and most economical paths.
5. Allow people with disabilities to move around more easily
Too many people have difficulty moving around. Public transport, which is often poorly adapted, does not help to change this state of affairs. With self-driving cars, you no longer need to call for help from public services or a third party; people with disabilities can move without problems.
1. Job losses
Empowering taxis, buses, and other trucks will have serious consequences for drivers and their jobs. Volvo is already testing autonomous trucks to help miners in Norway. The impact on the economy is difficult to measure, but such a transport revolution can only lead to a social crisis.
2. The decision speed
When we speak of decision speed, we are referring to side events and unforeseen events that may occur on the road. For example, how will the car react if an animal suddenly appears in front of the vehicle? Will it avoid the animal and run down the side of the road? A moral problem that computer engineers will have a hard time-solving!
3. The risks of hacking are high
The bane of the modern world! Computer hacking of the car's internal system compromises the vehicle's safety and may result in its remote control. Additionally, a hacker can gain access to your personal information such as your phone and credit card numbers or where you live.
4. Who is responsible in the event of an accident?
The legal status of self-driving cars is yet to be defined. In case of an accident, who is responsible? The constructor? The software publisher? The driver "? It is impossible at this time to predict how the case will be handled, as there is no case law on the subject.
5. The cost
Self-driving cars will most likely come at a significantly higher cost than conventional cars due to their advanced technology. They will therefore not be accessible to all wallets.