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Self-Driving Cars: A Lot To Gain

Up until a few years ago, the automotive industry has been dry and uneventful. Little incentive has been provided to automotive manufacturers to push the technological bar. Mainstream in-car technology beyond the essential driving experience has historically been wonky, finicky, and poorly implemented. Early attempts in creating sustainable alternative technology have also left a lot to be desired. Hybrid cars have gained decent traction, but have ultimately been established as a niche area of the market. Early implementations of electric cars have been faced with a similar fate. This gap in the market allowed a company called Tesla Motors to gain popularity and flip the industry upside down. Their products feature an early preview of what would’ve been classified as science fiction 10 years ago: self-driving capabilities.

Self-driving automotive technology isn’t a new concept. The idea has been around for decades but mainstream technology wasn’t advanced enough or cheap enough to make it practical. The recent artificial intelligence craze in the computer science world and resultant discoveries have provided us with the means to make self-driving cars a reality in the near future. There is a lot to be gained:

Tragic outcomes associated with drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs will become a thing of the past. Accidents as a whole will be dramatically reduced. Extremely young and old people that wouldn’t otherwise be capable of safely driving will now be provided with an effective means of travel. Cars would be able to intercommunicate and engage in what is referred as platooning (driving extremely close together at high speeds), resulting in significantly less traffic congestion.

Self-driving automotive technology will change human life for the better, but it is important to consider some of the potential negative ramifications:

An estimated 3 to 5 million US jobs will be replaced once self-driving cars become mainstream. Human truck drivers, delivery drivers, and cab drivers will be rendered obsolete. Cyber security specialists have become wary of potential dangers that could arise from having a fully operational car with a permanent always-on internet connection. If tampered with by the wrong people, self-driving cars could become weapons. Mass chaos could break loose if an enemy country or terrorist organization launched an attack on us in the form of self-driving car manipulation. There are also concerns of privacy since self driving cars will naturally need to maintain an always-on internet connection.

Posted By: Jeffrey Rosen for ENES464

Sources:

Platooning: https://www.eutruckplatooning.com/About/default.aspx

American Job Loss: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-greenhouse-driverless-job-loss-20160922-snap-story.html

Cyber Security Concerns: https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/25/the-biggest-threat-facing-connected-autonomous-vehicles-is-cybersecurity/

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