Self-driving cars are the future of transportation, but are they safe?
Recently, Ford announced that the company has plans to build self-driving cars that will be available by the year 2021. Though it is unclear whether or not these cars will be available to consumers in 2021, self-driving cars certainly are beginning to inch closer and closer to becoming widely used consumer products. It’s entirely possibly that thirty years from now, many of us will reminisce about the glory days when people actually had to drive their cars, and teenagers had to take driving tests in order to get driver’s licenses.
Self-driving cars would undoubtedly make driving easier, especially on long road trips, and in dense traffic. How awesome would it be to kick back and relax during your commute to work? Also, self-driving cars would almost completely eliminate drunk driving, ultimately making the roads safer. The benefits of self-driving cars seem to be endless, but exactly how safe are computer-operated cars?
According to Google’s data from the company’s self-driving car project, self-driving cars actually are incredibly safe. In fact, the company actually posts monthly accident reports that take note of all accidents that took place while the cars were in autonomous driving mode. The results? Thus far in the year 2016, Google’s autonomous vehicles have been involved in just eight accidents. Of those eight accidents, only one was the autonomous vehicle’s fault, and the rest were mostly incidents in which the self-driving car was rear-ended. In the month of July, Google’s self-driving cars were involved in just one accident, and the cars drove a staggering 1,842,496 miles in autonomous mode.
Because self-driving cars remove human error, they actually are safer than cars operated by people. Self-driving cars have the potential to significantly reduce the number of accidents in the United States, but it seems like we are a long ways away from people giving up driving altogether. For many, it might be difficult to put their lives in the hands of a computer, and this is completely understandable.
Computers freeze, crash, and lag, so who’s to say that self-driving cars won’t occasionally do the same thing when they’re on the road? The chances of a self-driving car’s computer operator crashing are slim, but just the idea of a self-driving car’s computer crashing while driving on the highway is enough to give you chills. Also, people love driving cars, and having the freedom to drive around wherever they please. It’s likely that we won’t see human-operated cars vanish altogether within the next 50 years, but it certainly is becoming clear that self-driving cars could become the norm sooner than we might think.