While the notion of a self-driving car may have seemed like science-fiction as recently as a decade ago, it is now widely believed that autonomous automobiles will form the crux of our transportation systems by as early as 2040. While there are clearly still some very serious concerns associated with driver-less vehicles, such as how they would handle unforeseen variables like debris in the road or how to properly assess ethical dilemmas, it’s becoming increasingly hard to deny that the self-driving car future will be superior to our human error-ridden transportation infrastructure of today. Here are 9 reasons we can’t wait for the robot car future.
9. Speeding Tickets Will Be A Thing Of The Past
Given that a self-driving car will be programmed to obey traffic laws, speeding will be a thing of the past (don’t worry — speed limits are likely to be much higher given that these cars will be much safer at high speeds than if they were operated by a human). Of course, given that the concept of speeding will be eliminated, so too will speeding tickets and the need for traffic cops in general. The roads will basically police themselves and the big winner will be your wallet, not to mention your anxiety levels.
8. Say Goodbye To Liability Auto Insurance
If drivers are no longer needed to operate automobiles, does this not mean the need for auto insurance will go away as well? Some experts seem to believe so. In a driverless future, accident liability would theoretically transfer from the car’s owner to the manufacturer, since it will be the fault of software defects and other related issues that would cause the incident. Given how pervasive insurance companies are in seemingly every avenue of our lives, it seems likely that they will find a way around this obstacle, but until they do, we’ll be happy to see personal auto insurance go the way of the dodo.
7. Decrease Time Stuck In Transit
Gridlock is a daily frustration for many commuters, but thankfully computerized cars will essentially eliminate traffic congestion. Due to the placement of scheduling nodes at every intersection and the elimination of human error from the equation, the cars of the future will hardly ever need to stop (barring unforeseen issues obviously) — even for traffic lights. Incredibly, the technology will eventually become so sophisticated that every car will be able to pass through intersections together without colliding. All of this increased traffic efficiency will cut down on travelling times dramatically, which will give passengers more time to do other things…
6. Productivity Will Increase
Operating a vehicle is a task that demands all of our attention, so wouldn’t it be great to not have to worry about this anymore? While driving enthusiasts won’t be pleased about handing over their keys to a computer, taking our hands off the wheel will restore so much of our time that was previously wasted on a repetitive task, even the most ardent car lover will eventually see the light. Catching up on work, reading a book, watching a movie — all of these activities and more will be available to us, as we are able to make much better use of our time by freeing up our hands and concentration.
5. They Will Decrease Pollution
A not immediately obvious benefit of switching to a driver-less car reality is that our fuel bills, and by extension pollution levels, will dramatically decrease. Since these vehicles will barely ever need to stop, they will be much more fuel efficient since fuel-guzzling stop-and-go driving will be a thing of the past. While it still behooves us to find a more environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, at least carbon emissions will automatically be much less prevalent once self-driving cars are widely adopted.
4. Our Moods Will Improve
Driving not only wastes our time, it has a major impact on our emotional health. Studies have shown that driving not only negatively impacts our physical health, but takes a toll on our mental well-being as well. Depression and anxiety levels tend to be higher among those who drive regularly, not to mention that road rage significantly impairs our decision-making when behind the wheel — which is the exact kind of situation you want to be of sound mind for. Passing off the responsibility of driving to someone else, like a computer, will simply make us happier, which will lead to measurable benefits for our society at large.
3. Shipping Will Dramatically Improve
Thanks to the internet and our global economy, it’s never been easier to get almost anything you want from anywhere in the world. The problem is, a lot of time and resources go into shipping products by conventional trucks. By switching to self-driving vehicles, it would only take a quarter of the time it does now to ship products (thanks to those increased speeds and efficiency), allowing companies to ship more products more frequently and at a fraction of the time and cost. While the downside is that drivers will be put out of work, it’s hard to argue with the benefits far outweighing the disadvantages in this case.
2. Increased Safety All Around
While the economic benefits of self-driving cars are enormous, so too are the impacts on human health and well-being. Simply put, driving will become a much safer activity once we are no longer behind the wheel, as computers are dramatically less-susceptible to the myriad array of mistakes we make everyday. While there are legitimate concerns over how these vehicles will be able to assess situations that rely on our own ethical prejudices (such as how the vehicle values the operator’s life over others’), the evidence is overwhelming at this point that autonomous vehicles will be much safer overall than human drivers. Plus, our streets will become much safer for pedestrians and cyclists due to the increased awareness and reaction times of these vehicles’ sophisticated systems.
1. The Economic Benefits Will Be Enormous
If there’s one all-encompassing benefit to point to when arguing why we should embrace self-driving cars, it’s the overwhelmingly positive impact they will have on our economies. 90% of all traffic collisions are caused by human error; by removing the most dangerous element (that is, us) from the equation, a 2013 study estimates that 4.2 million accidents could be avoided, along with saving 21,700 lives and a staggering $450 billion. Those are incredible numbers and if autonomous vehicle technology lives up to its promise, it will be positively irresponsible to not adopt it on our highways when the benefits are so overwhelmingly positive.