Auto, Technology

The Driverless Future

We are living in an age where the wonders of science fiction are fast becoming daily realities we take for granted. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of a pocket supercomputer with access to all human knowledge was an impossible dream. Now we call them smartphones and don’t think of them as being any more amazing than a microwave. And, like how the internet and smartphones changed our world, so will the emerging technology of self-driving automobiles.

The Infancy of Self Driving Cars

Right now, self-driving cars are in their infancy–making them far from perfect.  In fact, they are not even close to what the final version for mass consumption will be.

It was only twenty years ago that most of us were on the internet using 56k modems with computers that measured RAM in megabytes. The self-driving cars being tested on the market are at an even earlier stage of relative development than the 56K.

Putting an End to the Doubt

Recent headlines highlighting fatalities connected with driverless cars have caused some people to doubt the reality of a driverless future. They will be proven wrong.

No technology starts out perfect or ever becomes perfect, and no technology will ever be above user error. Look at how texting while driving has killed so many.

User error and fundamental human fallibility has been, and will always be, the greatest danger to us. Driverless cars take away a large part of that potential for human error, and as the technology is better refined, the safer it will get.

If you look into the accident with Uber’s self-driving car that resulted in the death of a woman crossing the road, you will find that it wasn’t the car’s fault. The lady tragically walked into oncoming traffic and lost her life. Having a human driver wouldn’t have changed that.

Two Main Factors Determining Our Driverless Future

Consumer Demand

People have been fascinated by the idea of self-driving cars since the idea first appeared. Even those of us who like to drive have those days when we wish we didn’t have to get behind the wheel.

Imagine a future where rush hour is smooth, and accident-free thanks to AI controlled cars all driving at the appropriate speed, staying in the correct lane, and effortlessly navigating through traffic. Driverless technology will take the dread out of our commutes.

Economics

The first thing people imagine in this area is self-driving trucks–and for a good reason. AI-driven trucks never need a break and will be cheaper to operate, which means more goods will be transported cheaper and faster.

Trucks aren’t the only commercial vehicles that are driven. There is also an industrial side.  Factories could use driverless technologies with equipment like a trolley conveyor or an i-beam trolley to run not only a more efficient operation but also a safer one.  

Conclusion

It is a safe bet that driverless technology won’t stay exclusive to automobiles and trucks. Major retailers, restaurants, and even local mom & pop stores could use AI-powered drones to make deliveries or pickups.

Driverless trains could also autonomously haul cargo, and self-piloting ships could traverse the oceans. Ports might even one day be staffed by a few workers overseeing autonomous tugs moving barges in a ballet of commercial shipping containers.

Once the true innovators of industry get their hands on this technology, there is no telling how far it will go.  

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