Inthe previous decades, the idea of a driverless car was far beyond theimagination of many. Nevertheless, currently, the discovery of theautonomous vehicle (AV) technology shows that a vehicle can operateand move without any human assistance. According to Ni and Jason (3)the intriguing state -of -the -art technology has the capability tochange the world in various ways. A big question that emerges isthat if these cars are incorporated into society, what issues willthe community face? This paper seeks to examine the implication ofthe integration of the technology into the society. The discussionasserts that the benefits of the technology outweigh the drawbacks.
Theuse of AV technology shifts responsibility from the driver to thevehicle itself. This form of technology also renders the currentsafety regulations and technical specifications obsolete.Consequently, it brings about other issues that did not exist beforeits invention. The need to develop a satisfactory sensor technologyis one of the challenges associated with the use of autonomousvehicles. Currently, the technology uses Light Detection and Ranging(LIDAR). Apparently, LIDAR has exhibited its weaknesses in handlingtricky cases or situations (Ni and Jason 8). For instance, snow canrender lane markers unclear or invisible therefore making the LIDARtechnology ineffective.
Anotherdrawback is that the use of autonomous vehicles also brings forthprivacy concerns. Uncertainties emanate from the fear that the carsowners would permit companies to gain access to substantial amountsof confidential user data. A good case is the need to input thedestination point into the vehicle’s system in advance beforeembarking on the journey.
Autonomousvehicles also raise the subject of “ethics in decision-making”(Ni and Jason 9). For instance, what judgment would the software orrobot make when confronted with a scenario that involves eithersacrificing the life of the passenger at the expense of saving thelife of other pedestrians on the road? Would the software veer thevehicle off the lane and kill the passenger, rather than proceed onits course and kill pedestrians crossing the road? A good example isa case whereby the vehicle sacrifices the life of its passengers byveering off the road when its navigation software detects that thenumber of pedestrians that would die after being hit exceeds thenumber of passengers in the vehicle.
Theuse of autonomous vehicles also affects social norms since it wouldbe difficult for car owners to buy into the idea of not havingultimate control over their vehicles. Initially, car owners have hadultimate control over their vehicles. This would not be the case forautonomous vehicles. Security suffices to be the other issueassociated with the use of autonomous vehicles (Ni and Jason 9).“Autonomous vehicles depend on software applications to drive totheir destinations and manage the existing road traffic” (Ni andJason 9). With this in mind, the threat of hacking is imminent. Ascenario may arise in which a hacker directs the vehicle to a choicedestination with the intention of kidnapping, causing harm orkilling. These among other concerns are responsible for the increasedpublic concerns brought about by riding in autonomous vehicles,especially level 3 and 4. As a result, the issue of public acceptancealso has obstructed the adoption of AV technology into the market.
Irrespectiveof the concerns mentioned above, it is important to weigh in on thecosts of the innovation in relations to its benefits. Road carnagesuffices to be the greatest challenge affecting road transportation.Driver errors have turned out to account for a huge percentage oftraffic accidents. The rationale behind the use of autonomousvehicles was the need to eliminate the human driver in the quest toreduce driving inaccuracies which in essence are the primary cause ofaccidents.
It is also apparent that the use of AVs has the potential of“lowering congestion, and environment degradation” (Anderson 9).It is evident that autonomous vehicles have the prospect of reducingpollution an excessive challenge associated with the use ofautomobiles. Besides reducing the ecological problems, autonomousvehicles also yield additional benefits by increasing mobility,therefore lowering congestion levels.
Ontop of the list of negative externalities are traffic accidents.Accidents are the leading cause of death among young adults agedbetween 15 and 29 years. For children aged between 5 and 14 years,traffic accidents are statistically the second-leading cause ofmortality. The other external issues include “air pollution, noise,greenhouse gas emissions, and congestion” (Litman 3). Theindividual and social costs associated with traffic accidents includeloss of earnings, property damage, lost household production,workplace expenses, legal charges, administrative expenditures, lostquality of life, suffering and pain, vocational rehabilitation,emergency services, and medical expenses. In essence, it is evidentthat the elimination of negative externalities associated withhuman-driven vehicles and the costs related to the use of autonomousvehicles is worth the effort and additional resources required in theacquisition and utility. Therefore, I think that the public shouldaccept these positive aspects of change associated with the use ofautonomous vehicles.
Thepositive effect of AV technology on crashes and safety suffice to bethe outstanding milestone behind the necessity of adopting thetechnology. The US recorded 5.3 million automobile accidents in 2011.Motor accidents caused at least 32,000 fatalities and 2.2 millioninjuries (Anderson 12). It is evident that the substantial numbers ofcasualties are a public health issue that increases governmentexpenditure in the health sector. Over the years, the USA haswitnessed declining rates of road carnage fatalities and injuriesbecause of the gradual integration of on-vehicle safety technologiesthat form the rationale behind the use of autonomous vehicles. Someof the technology includes frontal airbags, antilock brakes,electronic stability control, side airbags for protecting the head,and forward collision warnings.
Level0 and level 1 autonomous vehicles contain essential on-vehicle safetytechnologies. These types of machinery reduce car crashes therebysaving the millions of lives lost in road accidents across the globe.On the other hand, level two, three, and four autonomous vehicleshave advanced security technologies that have a positive impact onthe passenger safety. It can be stated that owners of an autonomouscar would, therefore, reap a portion of the security benefits.However, it is clear that the involvement of the vehicle in fewercrashes is also beneficial to pedestrians, bicyclists, othervehicles, and other road users (Anderson 16).
Inconclusion, it can be argued that the merits of the autonomousvehicle outweigh the demerits. A key benefit that is noted from thediscussion is the safety advantage which will ultimately resolve theproblem of road carnage. This paper proposes that the technologyshould be integrated into the society.
Anderson,James. Autonomousvehicle technology: A guide for policymakers.Rand Corporation. 2014. Print.
Litman,Todd. "AutonomousVehicle Implementation Predictions."Victoria Transport Policy Institute. 2014. Print
Ni,Richard and Jason Leung. "Safetyand Liability of Autonomous Vehicle Technologies." Sage. 2015.