June 6, 2016
Many people are excited about the prospect of driverless cars. They believe this could reduce the fossil fuel usage and reduce the need for importing foreign made cars. They are definitely capable of making humans more productive. But, we can’t help asking a few questions before we can come to terms with this.
In a broader perspective, autonomous vehicles are already there. There are many high tech cars that have automation systems to prevent collisions. These cars use laser or radar to gauge the distance between the next car and warn the driver about the applying brakes in case the gap is too narrow.
What was once available only in high-end cars is now slowly stepping into the moderately priced cars as well. Another automation system that is available is look out for people or objects in blind spots and prevents you from running over. These are applicable only when the driver makes a mistake.
Taking this a notch further is the “autopilot mode” which follows the highway and changes lanes for avoiding other cars. This doesn’t mean you get to take your hands off the wheel and text or go check the social media pages. You still have to watch the road and keep your hands on the steering so that you could manage in case there are any mishaps.
Driverless cars are something that is even more ambitious than this. They are meant to eliminate the drivers themselves. They are smart cars that can drive through crowded streets, understand traffic lights, deal with intersections, cyclists and even sudden pedestrians. To even hear this as a concept is amazing. This is very difficult to accomplish in all the locations around the world. But not having a responsible adult and no steering when does scare us to an extent.
Cars have always been one of the dependent modes of transport for most of us. Railways and buses should be used more for traveling to places that have the connectivity. It is good that we have technology as long as it keeps us safe and helps improve our life. But it is not good to eliminate ourselves and let technology rule the world.
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