They drive themselves and they don't really care about road rage. Enter the self-driving cars, the robots who simply get you from Point A to Point B safely and without any hassle. From Google to Tesla, everyone is keen on beating everyone else to the punch and delivering the first reliable fleet of self-driving cars. How plausible is this?
From Porsche to the embattled parent company Volkswagen, everyone has been pushing for greener, cleaner and more technologically advanced solutions. Driverless cars are certainly the future, but they still face many challenges. For starters, most self-driving cars are EVs or electric vehicles, which immediately raises concerns about the range of the vehicles.
However, there are more factors to consider. People don't take too readily to self-driving cars, and besides – there have already been fatal accidents involving Uber's self-driving fleet.
Are Self-Driving Cars Scary?
Self-driving cars aren't necessarily scary. Yes, the push is a little too quick too soon, but Google, Uber, and Tesla are definitely onto something. In the very least, the advent of self-driving cars would help us save a lot of time. There are quite a few benefits to self-driving already:
Fewer traffic accidents
More time for drivers to do other activities
Less of an environmental impact (reduced emissions)
Imagine yourself already working while on your commute, knocking tasks off your trail during your 1.5 – 2-hour commute to the work office. Admittedly, the interior of cars will also have to start changing for that to become a reality as you would have a difficult time going through your work cooped up in your average car. However, the future might change the interior of cars to resemble spacious mini-limos equipped with all the comforts and individualized as small private rooms.
Of course, some of the upsides of driverless cars have already been challenged. For instance, heavier tires mean more fine particles being released in the atmosphere. Plus, if the world goes electrical overnight, the grid would just go under.
In places such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland this is not going to happen, because these countries tend to be advanced enough to manage their resources carefully and well enough to avoid power grid overkill. However, is the world ready?
Driverless Cars Need Loving
As has been said, driverless cars exist in a sort of duality. They can both help or harm the environment. They are seen as an end for fuels that power greedy economies, but also as an uncertainty if too heavily relied on. Nobody really can decide if they want to have one.
Unless you are rich enough to afford to experiment, investing in an electric car and trying to buck the trend of the place where you live would be unwise. One of the concerns is whether there will be enough charging stations and how efficient charging would indeed be. Would the costs for electricity excel what you pay for fuel? Economics and swift calculations will have to do.
It's not just about the grid, though. While car mechanics today know how to fix a combustible engine, electronics might get into the way. Something as mundane as finding the correct auto keys locksmith would prove a little more difficult than before, as a locksmith would need to be able to "hack" your car to unlock it.
This means being good not just with locks, but with coding, for example, which is a challenge in its own right. The future of driverless cars doesn't depend just on technological breakthrough but equally on the goodwill of people to move forward and adapt.
Driverless cars are faced with a lot of opposition. There are the quasi-Luddites who don't want machines to be dictating important aspects of their lives, and then again – there are the lobbyists who are not keen on cutting fuel out of the equation just yet.
However, if enough efforts are put, the world may just change how it perceives electric vehicles. European countries are the first to move onto full mass-adoption. The United Kingdom is also now approaching what lawmakers describe as "climate emergency," so we can expect EVs and driverless cars to be much more popular.
The first wave of self-driving vehicles will arrive in the Nordic countries in Europe. The experiment is going to be almost certainly a success. What remains as a question after, though, is whether this can be replicated across the rest of the world and whether driverless cars will arrive by 2035 as analysts expect.