Sooner than later, you might see cars zooming past you and leave you suspicious for the awe that you have seen. Ghost cars, or cars with no one piloting it, might just be a very common sight downtown.
Talks about the development of autonomous or driverless cars are nothing new. Back in 2009, Google had started the world’s first self driving car project. The testing phases were rigorous but were always strictly restricted to highways and expressways. The development was then shifted to regular city roads and the results were pretty satisfactory.
However, in 2016, the driverless car project, which was until then given a name “Waymo”, sprung away from Google’s Alphabet Inc. and formed an independent self driving company and introduced the first fully self-driven minivan, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
After being pioneered by Google, a plethora of companies, both Government backed as well as independent ones, began developing and testing similar autonomous vehicles. Latest to join the bandwagon is an autonomous pod named Harry, which was put on trial in Greenwich along the road adjacent to the Thames. The trial included members from the process who went on board on the pod. It, of course, had a driver in place in case of any emergency or malfunctions. And thus, the car decorated with lasers and sensors all around started its journey. This project was supported by the Government as well.
The output was good, in fact great considering the phase of technological development. The pod was on its way at a speed of around 25 kms per hour when a jogger (a jaywalker of a kind) suddenly came in front, not noticing the vehicle. The pod was quick and smart enough to get on the brakes and halt. In other circumstances, we might have seen a road rage or at least a mouthful between the driver and the pedestrian. But not in this case. It was calm around, as if nothing happened. The jogger leapt and started jogging away and the pod resumed its journey.
The technology that is used in a driverless car is already in the development phase and is constantly being refined and improved and perfected with every passing year. A little over two years from now and we will be almost too close to the next big thing. In fact, such technologies are also being tested in the countries that are open for manufacturers to come and test their latest developed features. Countries like USA, which is a tougher nut to crack with state-level approval, and UK, which is presently a very easy place for the manufacturers to test their vehicles (thanks to the government), are presently the two centre points for the development and testing of such technologies.
There isn’t a single element of doubt in the fact that autonomous or driverless cars are way more convenient. But are they safe enough?
I will show you some interesting facts that will almost single-handedly turn the debate in favour of autonomous greatly. According to the reports, almost 90 per cent of road accidents are caused due to errors by the drivers or human misjudgments. And the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 12.5 lakh people die of road accidents each year.
Hence, should human driven cars be banned altogether? Let’s not be so harsh on them. Let’s just say, human drivers may eventually die out and this should not be abrupt. It’s always way better and recommended to embrace the newest technology before the old one falls flat. Just like it’s not possible to ban liquor or cigarette at once, but even more understandable is to make stricter rules against them.
So let’s just put it this way – autonomous or driverless cars should be embraced with wide arms the moment they are made available. After all, it isn’t a bad thing to adopt a method that is 10 times safer than the conventional scheme.
Source: Autoportal India