As self-driving vehicles become more and more common, many people are wondering what the future of driving will be like. But beyond the romanticism, there are also some interesting arguments on either side of this debate. Here are some facts suggested by https://actknw.com/ about self driving cars and trucks.
Self-driving vehicles certainly have some benefits:
They reduce car dependence and may help to address traffic congestion by getting cars off the road during peak hours; they’re safer because they don’t get distracted; and they can provide mobility for groups currently underserved by public transportation (elderly, disabled, low-income).
But self-driving cars also increase safety risk, particularly for those who may feel shut out by technological advancements that take away the element of control they feel over their own lives.
The best estimates put R&D funding for autonomous driving at $30–50 billion over the next ten years, with an industry outlook of $1–2 trillion a year in 2030–40. That sounds like a significant number of vehicles to be moving around a city or other heavily trafficked area.
The technology itself is not cheap, and it’s likely to be adopted first by higher-income households, not a group that can’t afford a car now. The infrastructure cost is significant as well. Will cities be ready to handle a massive influx of vehicles? And if they are, will governments be willing to pay for the infrastructure needed to support this technology?
Regardless of how the technology develops, self-driving cars will inevitably lead to changes in how we think about transportation and the ways we live our lives. They may reduce congestion and make travel safer, but they could also reduce public transit use or take away mobility from those who depend on public transit.
There are also other questions about the future of transportation. What happens, for instance, when traditional vehicles become autonomous? Will there be a market demand for an entirely new kind of vehicle one that requires less maintenance, doesn’t take up parking spaces in crowded city centers, is more environmentally friendly? This type of vehicle could help address current problems with auto use in urban areas, but it could also require new types of policies to ensure that it’s accessible to groups currently underserved.
Architects have been thinking about the future in terms of “vehicular dystopias” since at least the early 1800s in popular fiction. Science fiction authors have imagined what self-driving cars would look like and how they might change our lives. The questions raised here, then, are an attempt to think through some of the potential benefits and challenges of such technology.
Where will the vehicles be sold?
The vehicles we use today almost all fit within two categories: cars and trucks. But there’s a third category: motorcycles, scooters and mopeds. They can’t fit in your garage or driveway like a car or truck and they don’t require a license to operate (you wouldn’t need one to ride one). They’re not meant for long-distance trips; many people don’t even own one.
Their current market share is difficult to pin down, but it could be as much as 4% of all vehicles. Autonomous motorcycles and scooters will probably go unnoticed; people will never ride them the way they ride a car or truck. But they may provide a pathway for increasing vehicle ownership: perhaps autonomous mopeds would increase the number of people who want them and who want to own one (instead of other modes like transit or bikes).
Will we need other types of vehicles, too?
Long before self-driving cars arrived on the scene, other technologies were already changing transportation. Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, even shoes are some of the ways people use to get around in cities today. We may soon see new lightweight vehicles that are powered by more than just your feet.
These vehicles could be used in concert with self-driving cars for short trips (or even long ones if they’re paired with an autonomous bus). Alternatively, they could be used for commuting or getting around town on your own. Because of their light weight and zero emissions, these vehicles may allow more people to move away from car ownership altogether.
Even as we anticipate the potential benefits of this new technology, it’s important that we also think about how it might upend or even exacerbate existing inequalities.
With the technology developed, the next big step will be making it socially acceptable. In a survey conducted by The Atlantic, 82% of respondents reported a negative perception of self-driving vehicles. As self-driving cars become more available, there will eventually have to be a widespread cultural change in how we perceive this technology and how we incorporate it into our lives. In other words, as self-driving cars become more common place, we’ll have to learn how to share the road with them.