Autonomous Vehicles: The Future of Driving

Tuesday January 2, 2018

Autonomous vehicles are an exciting new technology feared by some and embraced by others.

What was once only found in science-fiction is now making its way to a highway near you. For better or worse, driverless vehicles represent the next leap forward for the transportation industry.

Technology has made peoples’ lives easier since the beginning of recorded history. Once the digital age took hold, the possibilities for refining even the most basic aspects of everyday life became apparent. It was only a matter of time before technology found it’s way to driving.

There are obvious benefits to the automation of vehicles. However, there are also risks to consider. Even those who embrace technology may have reservations about sharing the road with a vehicle that lacks a human pilot. This technology requires thorough testing to safeguard against potential hazards.

The Origins of Autonomous Vehicles

Technology’s main purpose has always been to make our lives easier. If you value the convenience of mobile phones or have benefitted from cutting-edge medical procedures, you know firsthand how helpful technology can be.

Most vehicles manufactured today include computers in some form. Solutions like remote starters, back-up cameras, swerve detection, and braking assistance all involve computers. These technologies were the foundation for the development of driverless vehicles. These innovations have helped improve road safety and cut down on accidents.

Whether it’s taking you to work or picking up a shipment of freight across the country, autonomous vehicles take the driver out of the equation. This can prove very helpful for those who have disabilities that prevent them from driving, or for those who simply dislike being behind the wheel.

Technology that Has Grown Impressively

Many people look back at the technologies of the past and note how they evolved into the solutions we enjoy today. You may have noticed that vehicles, even those meant to be driven by humans, have changed significantly in recent decades.

The same driver-assist technologies available in many vehicles today are also in self-driving vehicles. Cameras and sensors capture the vehicle’s surroundings, alerting the algorithm to potential hazards so it can make safe adjustments on route to its destination.

In this regard, autonomous vehicles can perform on the roads just like you would, or better. They can sense obstacles, assess the situation, and make decisions – all within a millisecond.

But the big question of whether a machine is safe enough to drive itself on roads full of people remains a topic of controversy.

Are the Risks Worth It?

Plenty of technologies have faced backlash from traditionalists. Even as they gained more public acceptance and their benefits became more apparent, people have continually cited concerns about technology’s impact on society.

If you have wondered whether driverless vehicles are truly safe, you’re not alone. Even the organizations and industries embracing this technology are aware of the potential dangers.

Regulatory controls are already in the works regarding the use and testing of autonomous vehicles, and successful test runs have already taken place. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has even began drafting recommendations for insurance policies for autonomous vehicles.

“Automated vehicles are coming to Canada’s roads and the laws that govern insurance and vehicle safety need to be updated to reflect this reality,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.

Although there have already been accidents involving driverless vehicles, initial statistics show the rewards outweigh the risks.

Driverless vehicles may be a somewhat eerie change to transportation as we know it, but it seems their presence on our roads is inevitable.

How will industry be affected?

One important consideration is how autonomous vehicles will affect various industries.

The freight industry is a good example of an industry that can benefit from this technology. Facing a lack of talented drivers, freight companies may be able to use autonomous vehicles to provide their services.

Conversely, people that work in the public transportation sector are concerned autonomous vehicles will make their jobs obsolete.

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