The advantages and disadvantages of self-driving automobiles

By the end of the year, changes to driving standards might see autonomous cars on UK roads.

Users of self-driving cars would not be held liable for vehicle collisions under proposed revisions to the Highway Code.

The advantages and disadvantages of self-driving automobiles
The advantages and disadvantages of self-driving automobiles

Collision claims would instead be handled by insurance companies, according to the Department of Transport (DfT). People will be able to watch TV on built-in displays under the new rule, which is set to take effect this summer, although drivers must be prepared to regain control of their vehicles if requested. Driving while using a cell phone will remain banned.

For several years, self-driving vehicles have "remained tantalizingly just beyond the horizon," according to GreenBiz, but "the technology seems primed for a jump ahead in 2022." Although no self-driving cars have been licensed for use on UK roads, the Department for Transport has stated that the first might be available this year.

1 Advantage: it reduces human mistakes

According to The Guardian, the "ultimate goal" of autonomous vehicle makers is to produce automobiles that are safer than human-driven cars. Self-driving technology, according to the Department for Transport, might increase road safety, as human error is responsible for more than 85% of road accidents in the UK. The BBC stated, "Algorithms can't become intoxicated, tired, or distracted."

To reduce the chance of avoidable crashes, self-driving vehicles will check their speed and maintain a safe distance from other moving vehicles. According to The New York Times, a driver in an autonomous car is "not accountable for how it drives" and "does not need to pay attention to the road."

The advantages and disadvantages of self-driving automobiles

2 Disadvantages: slow-moving traffic

Self-driving technology, according to the Department for Transport, may "start the beginning of the end of urban congestion," with transportation infrastructure capable of ensuring a smooth flow of traffic.

However, according to Green Biz analysis, it might encourage "a lot more driving" in the United States. According to a 2019 poll of 940 partially automated vehicle drivers, up to 35% of respondents stated they drove greater distances as a result of the technology.

In addition, the first self-driving cars on the road may be required to drive in the slow lane. A car can drive itself in a single lane using automated lane-keeping system technology (ALKS), but only up to 37 mph.

3 Pro: fuel economy

When it comes to determining the most fuel-efficient route, self-driving systems may outperform human drivers. "They accelerate and brake more smoothly," according to the BBC, which saves fuel and "reduce exhaust pipe pollution." Many types are also powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels.

The Highway Code amendments, according to Transport Minister Rachel Maclean, are a "significant step" toward "making future travels greener, simpler, and more dependable."

4 Cons: Risks of hacking

In 2018, Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic said, "Every other computer device gets hacked now and again, so it's a near-certainty that self-driving vehicles will be hacked as well." The Washington Post noted the following year that as automobiles got more automated, cybersecurity was a "major worry" for the business.

According to a report released last year by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, AI systems used by autonomous vehicles are "susceptible to assaults that might impair the normal working of the vehicle" and represent a risk to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, "like any IT systems."

5 Advantages: Accessibility and Self-Sufficiency

According to Paul Herriott, a professor of transport design at The Conversation, automated cars represent "a chance to revolutionize personal transportation in a way that brings life-changing advantages to persons with disabilities." However, he stated that this would be contingent on a commitment to "more inclusive design methods," which he described as "widely lacking" earlier.

Self-driving technology will also benefit older individuals who, because of deteriorating eyesight or mobility, may no longer be safe to drive on UK roads. Automated vehicles might allow people to maintain control over their own mobility.

6 Contrary to popular belief, adapting to road variances is a time-consuming process

The efficacy of self-driving automobiles is partially determined by the environment in which they operate. Even having "radar, camera, and laser-based assistance" to help a car understand its surroundings, "complicated driving circumstances" need a lot of computing power – which, according to Auto Express, might be a barrier for the technology without standardized infrastructure.

"Narrow lanes in rural areas could pose a different challenge for autonomous vehicles," according to the website, then "a brand-new dual carriageway," which "will deteriorate, making it more difficult for autonomous vehicles to operate correctly," despite being "freshly painted and signed when first built." 

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