From self-driving cars to aerial drone roads, highly interconnected transport is a trend that could drive the transportation industry forward at a rapid pace, creating greater security and accessibility in the near future.
One of the projects with the highest potential benefits and social impacts is self-driving cars. The official estimated value based on statistics from the Department of Transportation is $9.2 million. And if self-driving cars can save around 30,000 lives per year (as predicted), then their cost benefit will be close to $276 billion per year.
The U.S. government is keen on making sure that American firms lead the way in developing driverless car technology. Under its proposed guidelines, laws may be altered to ensure that self-driving cars get insured for road usage.
Despite the optimistic expectations, the self-independent transport revolution faces a tough journey characterized by uncertain pathways and unpredictable outcomes.
This is not the first-time technological advancement is facing resistance.
Genetically modified food crops were at one time believed to be the answer to severe global problems of food production, malnutrition and poverty. However, adamant opposition and negative public opinion have become a stumbling block to its full utilization for a sustainable future. The risk is that self-driving cars could be derailed in a similar manner.
Here are a few benefits of self-driving cars:
Currently, 93% of road accidents are believed to be caused by a human blunder. Globally, it is estimated that there are close to 1.2 million accidents caused by human error per year, according to the World Health Organization. Self-driving cars, if widely implemented, are poised to save close to 10 million lives per decade, and subsequently 50 million lives across the globe in half a century.
Better traffic management could reduce travel times, CO2 emissions, noise, and congestion. For instance, utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones for deliveries and other public services, such as security and surveillance, could cut down on traffic congestion even more.
Less traffic and the capacity of autonomous cars to alert other vehicles quickly and pave the way could also mean better functionality of emergency vehicles. Additionally, streets and public areas could be more secure for people on foot through adoption of speed controls and anti-collision technologies.
That is not all: Supporters say self-driving cars could assist public sector workers to deal with aging population issues. There were close to 36 million licensed drivers aged 65 and above in USA in 2012. Self-driving cars could permit mobility and autonomy for elderly individuals while eliminating the need for subsidized public vehicles.
Self-driving cars could also offer local authorities a cost-friendly alternative for offering services such as security, environmental surveillance and garbage collection. Few accidents and risks also translate to lower insurance expenses for everyone. Investment in the vital infrastructure required could be recouped by attracting more residents and businesses searching for cutting edge mobility and access.
Bringing on the Future
Technology tends to be trusted more when it is under human control—even though proof suggests that the human component creates the clear majority of the problems. A large portion of this technology is already accessible, and the benefits are sufficiently clear.
However, to avoid a rough road to a self-independent future, a solid collaboration between different sectors is mandatory. If we can deliver better-developed and more secure technologies, the public and policymakers will have the capacity to feel more confident about using self-driving cars.