The most asked question about self-driving cars is not a technological one, rather philosophical. Are they safe enough?
Autonomous cars push-started way back in 2004, since then the excitement about self-driven cars are gradually increased. And therefore, several companies have already adopted the new technology. Such techno giants include; Uber, Waymo, and Tesla. Also, the ancient automakers have joined the game, for example, Ford, General Motors, and Volvo.
The adoption of autonomous cars is still debated, and so they have a lot to do before they are fully adopted. In March 2018, for example, an Uber self-driving vehicle got into a fatal accident in Arizona. The car collided head-on with a biker.
The leading cause of that accident was that the electric car could not identify whether the biker was a human or not to a point the vehicle could not stop. Meaning, human safety driver installed in the car failed to identify the biker. With such a case, therefore, it is clear that a lot of time will be needed to ensure the autonomous vehicles are safe.
Such case scenarios have raised the question of how safe are self-driving or autonomous cars.
How safe are they?
- Well, ethical considerations are surrounding self-driving cars, and they cannot be left out. Simply because, when it comes to situations where a passenger of a pedestrian life is concerned, caution is significant.
- Self-driving cars could minimize traveling time, curb air pollution, and also eliminate road traffic accidents due to human error. In the long run, if the public is made aware of the risks involved, then the public is automatically responsible for what will happen when faced with that risk.
- Usually, the leading causes of vehicle accidents include; drunk driving, speeding, as well as distracted driving. Therefore, close to 90% of road accidents would be minimized with autonomous cars, making the vehicles design quality responsible for any mishap.
- Also, with cases of self –driving cars collisions, it is not always a technical hitch or malfunction to blame rather the pedestrians who are crossing the streets. Some people change the lanes suddenly, failing to follow traffic rules, texting while crossing the roads, or even being stupefied when they see a self-driving car.
- In the future, as this technology is advancing, self-driving vehicles are set to be able to predict the pedestrian behavior pattern and hence prepare themselves.
- In the United States, for example, many accidents reported occurring as a result of human error. Therefore making it evident that reducing human drivers will help reduce that data. Not only reducing the numbers of human drivers would help but also reducing the number of cars on the roads and in this case autonomous or self-driving vehicles can make that happen.
- Self-driven cars, with the advantage of causing fewer accidents, are still new technology. Therefore, Autonomous cars follow the rules set by the manufacturer while human drivers decide what to do in case of an accident. For example, a human driver would opt to crash the car to escape a catastrophic danger.
- Self- driving cars are designed such that, they can form a complete and clear picture of the road and hence plan their route. LIDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging sensor) is the technology behind this. It gives out real-time occurrences and 3D image scanning the environment around the car.
- Moreover, radar sensors which come along with LIDAR can measure the speed and size of a moving object. Also, high definition cameras do read signals and signs. Therefore, when cars are moving the LIDAR cross-references all information with the GPS technology and locates the vehicles in town hence plan their route.
- Additional to the maps and sensors, the automatic vehicles run software programs that make real-time decisions concerning the action and reaction of the car on the road. Also, the cars ability to navigate relative to the other vehicles on the road, humans or even objects is enabled by the software program.
- Additionally, these cars can be summoned, and that is the real protection or safety promise by self-driving vehicles. The autonomous vehicles can also be called on-demand, easily shared, and routed more effectively.
- Meaning, not only the number of single-passenger vehicles will reduce but also the number of trips made will be reduced, and hence the reduction of miles traveled. Also, reducing the number of cars in the streets will make it safer for pedestrians and bikes to move and cross the roads safely.
How can automakers make autonomous cars safer?
- Installation of an independent module known as the AVC (Autonomous Vehicle Control) is measure car manufacturers take to ensure safety. The AVC is designed as a safety system that is created independently from the cars uniquely manufactured structure.
- The AVC in self-driving cars will interact with the car’s system and build a protection layer. Meaning, no matter how the vehicle is made, it will satisfy the required safety standards.
What makes self-driving cars in military safer?
- Autonomous cars are not only used in the civilian world but also at the military. The manufacturing of self-driving cars employs more attention to security measures.
- The major driving force is to eliminate any security weakness known by enemies. Therefore, autonomous vehicles are built in a manner that can avoid attacks even from sophisticated attackers who already are familiar with the autonomous car’s design.
Overall, the essential thing is to make pedestrians and citizens aware of the self-driving cars and help erase the doubts they have concerning the vehicles. Also, companies like Waymo as well as the government, should step in to minimize the fears associated with autonomous cars. They should also broadcast the pros of self-driving vehicles.
Professionals in car manufacturing industries think that it will take decades before the autonomous cars become fully operational without human interactions and before the vehicles are ubiquitous. Therefore, road-testing self-driving car is the last step. Here, they will be mixing with pedestrians, other drivers, and so it is necessary to be confident ensure t the safety of other road users.