Pros and Cons of Autonomous Cars
By: Good2GoPublished: August 25, 2014
Last week, we discussed what you need to know about self-driving cars, their development around the world, and how this technology could revolutionize driving as we know it. But as with any new technology, there will be those who will embrace it and those who will denounce it. Before you decide whether autonomous cars are a gift from above or a science-fiction nightmare come to life, take a look at the pros and cons.
Any form of technology that is meant to replace the need for a human being is bound to have a few advantages and disadvantages. However, the benefits of autonomous cars may outweigh the costs:
- Fewer collisions: Not only will self-driving cars have increased reliability, but they will also have faster reaction times compared to humans.
- Drivers can relax: Self-driving cars will relieve occupants from navigating confusing roads and eliminating the need to follow signage.
- Decreased driving constraints: Self-driving cars will eliminate driving constraints for occupants who are inexperienced, older, blind, distracted, intoxicated, or other forms of impairment.
- Reduced traffic congestion: It is predicted that self-driving cars will have the ability to better manage the flow of traffic and reduce the need for safety gaps.
- Higher speed limits: The technology behind autonomous cars will allow them to be more reliable and operate at faster speeds with more accuracy.
- Virtual valet: Autonomous cars have the potential to alleviate parking scarcity and act as a virtual valet by dropping off passengers, parking far away where there is space and return as needed.
- Reduction in traffic cops: Since self-driving cars will be better at navigating roads and reducing traffic accidents, they are less likely to break traffic laws, thereby eliminating the need for traffic cops.
But autonomous cars aren’t without their challenges:
- Liability: If a driverless car crashes into another vehicle (autonomous or manual), who is liable for injuries and damages? That’s a scenario that could cause a lot of headaches for drivers, manufacturers and insurance companies.
- Manual override: Inexperienced drivers may not know what to do if a situation arose requiring them to manually take the wheel and maneuver obstacles or avoid an oncoming crash.
- Faulty software: An autonomous is basically a driving computer, and computers can have unreliable software and glitches may occur while in motion. The car’s computer could also be compromised and face cyber security threats.
- Lack of privacy: Again, this computer on wheels uses GPS and other tracking methods to navigate and create a virtual picture of the surrounding environment, which means wherever you go, someone knows where you are.
- Weapons use: While this is an extreme scenario, autonomous cars could be used to transport explosives and other weapons to perform terrorist acts.
- Ethical problems: It is possible that a self-driving car may not be able to replicate the decision-making skills of a human being. For example, can a self-driving car’s software determine whether or not to hit an animal in the middle of the road or swerve into a ditch to avoid it? There may be certain courses of action a computer just can’t perform.
- Loss of jobs: As mentioned in the “pros” section, self-driving cars may eliminate the need for traffic cops, valets, and other driving-related jobs. The push for autonomous cars may also have some implications on the insurance industry since road safety is predicted to increase.
Do you still need insurance for autonomous cars?
Yes. As the owner of the vehicle, you will be liable for incidents regardless of who or what is in control of it. Some of that liability may be shared via claims by vehicle owners against manufacturers, but consumers will be the first recourse for those suffering bodily injury and/or property damage.
Joe DeLago, CEO of Good2Go Auto Insurance agrees that the auto insurance industry won’t change greatly once autonomous vehicles become commonplace. “Because consumers will still be liable for accidents, their need for protection will remain essentially unchanged. It is possible that some of the cost burden may be shared indirectly by manufacturers, but that will depend upon legal wranglings that are far enough in the future to be too uncertain to forecast.”
How do Americans feel about autonomous cars?
While a majority of Americans agree that self-driving cars have many benefits, they can’t seem to shake concerns of privacy, unreliable system performance, interactions with non-self-driving cars, and of course – liability. This two-faced attitude toward this technology could harm the adoption of self-driving cars and hinder the development of these vehicles for future use. As is true for most society altering technological innovations, acceptance of self-driving cars will be via evolution, as opposed to revolution.
Good2Go wants you to drive safe – and affordably. Find out how you can protect yourself with Good2Go.com auto insurance. Get a cheap car insurance quote today.