Self Driving Cars – Do We Really Need Them?
A lot of big names in the tech industry are investing and innovating to get self driving or autonomous cars on our roads. Millions of Dollars are being spent on the research involved. And at times, maybe thousands in payback to those involved in accidents occurring due to the failure of such “smart” cars undergoing trials.
Automation has brought revolution in many industries. Not only has it reduced the labor costs, but has also helped in achieving more accurate and consistent outcomes, and fewer accidents involved. Now if we look at the other side of it, automation has, at least to some extent, reduced the number of jobs, and in the coming years it will further reduce them. Although the accidents are few, some of them can be fatal and cause tremendous loss.
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How does Autonomous Cars Work?
Apart from the usual machinery, a self driving car would comprise of a huge number of sensors. These sensors collect real time data – take into consideration the nearby environment and based on how the decision making is programmed, the car moves.
We do know that the algorithms being used now days for this purpose implement machine learning. To break down in simple terms, a smart car is driven and then tested under surveillance for large miles, so they can learn more about the environment they are going to be thrown into. As the sensors take in varying scenarios, all the data is recorded and used for training or learning purpose.
How safe these cars are?
A leading company, which says it’s fleet has driven more than 10 million miles, just for getting the brains to make right decisions on the road – has to say this make people satisfied.
‘Our sensors detect if a cyclist is extending his/her arm to turn. The car slows down on such detection to let the cyclist cross safely’.
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Great, right? Prepare to crash if you are on that cycle, and for some reason you don’t extend your hand! Clearly not something which we can rely on. Furthermore, streets and people are not the same geographically. New York City could present a large crowd, not organized in the best way and moving helter skelter on bicycles, or walking and crossing with Lattes in their hands! A sudden parade might spring up if you are driving around the Nanjing Road in China. Or there might not be well defined roads at all, if you are in a town in Uttar Pradesh, India.
The places stated above give us a broader idea, but small in number, to imagine what sort of scenarios could exist. And to learn them all, imagine how many more miles have to be covered.
Is there a Need for Self Driving Cars?
The learning and miles needed to be driven is not an issue in itself. But if you think of the money, fuel and time involved in this procedure, you might not actually concur to that it’s worth it. No doubts, some companies have their own mission statements to justify the seemingly never-ending research behind this technology! Are you able to relate?
There could be other ways where the budget would give more fruitful results, and around something which is the need of the hour. How about bringing innovation and better reach of the public transport system? This is one of many – and the list can be endless.
You might wonder, that self driving cars –
- Would be useful while one is drunk and needs to drive back home.
- Would be useful to drive around a group of people where no one knows driving.
- Kill the need of a driving licence, globally!
- Eradicate stress due to driving in bumper to bumper traffic.
But are the above problems being faced so often, that we need an alternative involving so much cost and research? Are the above problems too big, and not have existing solutions already? Won’t solving the above issues with a self driving car would kill manual jobs in some sectors? Let’s leave these questions for you to answer – to yourself.
So, to cap it all – our words cannot create any impact on what has already begun. But it does drop us into a dilemma – why so much investment on something which might not actually be useful? We do acknowledge the exceptional cases here, which are extremely low! This industry can affect the world economy greatly based on the outcomes, and we can only hope it goes in the right direction. Else, there will be too many debts to pay!