Driving to the Future With Automated Automobiles

Pauline Antonio-Nguyen, Lit-art editor

In this era of technology, one thing that seems futuristic and out-of-this-world are the changes in transportation. For example, in movies such as The Fifth Element and Back to the Future, viewers can experience a spectacle of futuristic transportation, from flying cars to hoverboards. In the real world, however, the closest we have gotten to these futuristic vehicles are self-driving cars.
Although most people have their reservations about self-driving cars, there are many benefits to them. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, there are over 37,000 deaths due to car accidents every year in the United States. Self-driving cars could decrease this number dramatically because 95 percent of car accidents are caused by human error. Self-driving cars could also prevent traffic and improve the efficiency of cars. People can also gain more time during a commute, they could rest or do work and not have to worry about driving.
The problem nowadays is that many of the self-driving cars are semi-autonomous and still require a driver at the wheel. However, when driving these semi-autonomous automobiles, drivers who should be still paying attention to the road do not. Recently, a Tesla Model S autopilot car crashed into a firetruck in the Los Angeles County. The firetruck had stopped to help a motorcycle accident and the Tesla ran into the truck at 65 mph, the driver stated that the car was on autopilot. The driver According to the Los Angeles Times, “even if the human-robot team-up leads to safer roads on average, plenty of drivers will abuse the relationship, intentionally or not.” Hod Lipson, a director at Columbia University, says that this is due to split responsibility. “If you give the same responsibility to two people, they each will feel safe to drop the ball. Nobody has to be 100%, and that’s a dangerous thing.” Many companies such as Tesla, Audi, Volvo, Cadillac, and Mercedes-Benz offer these semi-autonomous cars, but other companies such as Ford have decided to only release fully automated cars in fear of bad publicity.
Self-driving cars can change how we move from place to place; they could drive people to train or bus stations. There can be cars that play movies or cars that you could exercise in. Overall, there are plenty of possibilities for new car designs with the design of automation. And since there would be less traffic, it would cut down time commuting, which would be better for people’s health, as there has been a lot of research on the negative impacts of commuting. Self-driving cars would also increase the access to cars, for people who cannot drive.
Many Americans were scared of self-driving cars. In a survey by AAA 78% of people say that they would not ride in a self-driving car, but recently AAA redid the survey and the number has now dropped to 63%. Companies like Uber and Lyft are also trying to expand into self-driving cars, and have been testing automated cars since 2016. Uber hinted at plans to release the self-driving cars as soon as next year. Uber states that it would ease the self-driving cars into their program, first with only 5% of cars being automated and giving customers the chance to choose whether they would like an automated car or not.
Self-driving cars are not a thing of the far future. Instead they represent the transformation of our way of transportation. However, with their advantages and disadvantages, it is not certain how much more they will make our lives better, until perfected.