Are Driverless Cars a Threat or a Benefit for Our Society?

Rilind Elezaj

February 27, 2019

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Driverless cars: the new sensation in both the tech and transport sectors. The cars are not yet here with us, but the debate as of how they will improve or threaten the future is already happening. Some stakeholders in the tech industry are optimistic that the new technology will be a major upgrade on today’s transport industry. The transport sector stakeholders, on the other hand, see driverless cars as an unnecessary interference which will threaten the economy and render many jobless. In this article, we will look at the main areas where autonomous cars are likely to influence—either positively or negatively—and how.

1. Safety

Statistics show that more than a million lives from across the world are lost each year through road accidents. In the United States, more than $190 billion go into paying for damages—medical fees and payment of damaged property—that arise from road accidents each year. Further statistics show that about 90% of these accidents have a direct or indirect connection with irresponsible driving. That means that by getting human drivers off the roads and replacing them with driverless cars could reduce road carnage by up to 90%.

On the flipside, autonomous cars are basically computers, and as it has become the norm these days, the cybercrime threat cannot be wished away. According to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s chief of trends analysis Will Godfrey, the safety solutions that the driverless cars are likely to bring could be jeopardized by this threat. Criminals can, for example, access the vehicle’s braking system from a remote location, risking the lives of its occupants.

Software failure is another safety concern that people have with driverless cars. These vehicles will be using sensors to read traffic signals, to communicate with technicians from their respective head offices, and even to communicate with each other on the road. What happens when the sensors are destroyed or interfered with by adverse weather conditions? Lives could be on the line.

2. Effect on Economy

With the full adoption of driverless cars, there is no doubt that many jobs will be lost in the process including delivery guys, taxi drivers, and basically everyone who depends on driving jobs for a living. This would potentially precipitate a serious unemployment crisis.

On the flipside, autonomous cars come with many benefits to the global economy. First, these cars have the potential of eliminating traffic jams in major cities, thus saving time for the working population. People will get more done within a day than ever before. And secondly, software developers and IT experts are looking at unlimited job opportunities in the future because they will be entrusted with running the transport industry.

3. Health

The transport industry—as currently constituted—is a health hazard by itself. Global carbon emissions are dangerously high, with statistics showing that these emissions have increased by about 50% over the last 30 years. Autonomous cars will rid the environment of carbon emissions within the first 15 years of their use, particularly because they will be using electricity as their means of propulsion instead of gas. The environmental and health significance of this can never be underestimated. Reduced traffic, on the other hand, will lead to reduced cases of high blood pressure, increased cardiovascular fitness, as well as reduced cases of anxiety and depression.

4. Cost

The cost of buying and maintaining a car is just a small fraction of what the driverless cars are going to demand. The cost of buying the software, installing sensors, and updating them every now and then will be too much to bear. That’s not all; durability concerns also make autonomous cars unimpressive. They are computers, after all, and what technology has taught us so far is these cars could get sluggish after about five years of use and completely un-roadworthy by their 10th year. There is the threat of an individual car owner spending over $100,000 on a new car after every three to five years.

The full potential of autonomous cars is yet to be tested, so we may not be able to authoritatively tell how it will threaten or benefit our future society. Without taking anything from human drivers, it is clear that this new technology will precipitate many benefits to the global economy and the health sector. All that the manufacturers of driverless cars need to do is to sort out the cybersecurity concerns that seem to cloud this technology and the current skepticism will cease.

Rilind Elezaj is an experienced digital marketing specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Rilind possesses a strong entrepreneurial mindset and has devoted his career to enhancing the sphere of digital marketing. In his methodological approach, Rilind integrates web development and other digital marketing solutions to create hybrid strategies that bring the best results.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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