Why do we Need Self-Driving Cars ?

Why do we need Self-Driving Cars? This is one of those most frequently asked questions since the idea of Self-Driving cars came out. With more and more of the biggest Technological Giants such as Google and Tesla putting in serious efforts for developing Self-Driving Cars, the question of why we actually need Self-Driving cars are becoming more and more prominent.

The main reason that justifies the need for Self-Driving Cars is definitely the occurrence of Accidents caused by Manually Driven Cars. On an average, more than 1.25 million people die from Road Accidents worldwide. From NDTV Accident Statistics, in India alone, one road accident occurs every 4 minutes. That means, by the time you have completed reading this post, around 30-35 lives would have been lost worldwide due to road accidents.

With the number of accidents ever increasing, it is important to analyze the major reasons behind these road accidents. Though there a lot of factors that cause accidents, the most prominent and dominant reason is Human Negligence. Other factors such as Component Failures related to the vehicles contribute to only a very minute percentage of accidents.

Human factors that contribute to accidents include, but are not limited to Rash Driving, Drink, and Drive, Speeding, Neglecting Safety measures such as Helmets and Seat Belts, Distracted Driving, Breaking Traffic Rules etc. The list, if extended, would go on and on.

When humans sit behind the wheel, there are a lot of factors affect that the way he thinks and acts. While driving, he might be affected by the work pressure, or the recent quarrel that he had in the family. All these manifests as disturbances that takes his mind off the road, the result of which would result in him in ignoring a person who suddenly walked onto to the road.

This is why the idea of having Self-Driving Cars are important. They do not have a human component associated with them giving them the liberty to think clearly and make rational decisions when it comes to road safety. Safety is first and foremost concern for all the companies that are into the Self-Driving Technology and they are investing heavily in R&D, State of the Art Equipments and Trials to ensure that the Self-Driving cars are much safer to ride than their human operated counterparts.

Self-Driving Cars

A Waymo Self-Driving Car

Self-Driving cars are equipped with some of the best software and hardware components to allow them to function without any manual intervention. These include sensors, cameras with full degree field of view and advanced GPS set up. One of the most notable features among the Sel-Driving cars is Collision Avoidance. Though Collision Avoidance has been in production for normal cars for quite some time, the technology has been made more precise and efficient in the case of the Self-Driving cars. Hence, since they come with refined technology with a sole focus on Safety, Self-Driving Cars could in fact cut down the number of accidents.

Self-Driving cars are useful from a Resource Utilization perspective as well. Have you ever given a thought of what your car is up to while you are reading through this article? They would just be lying in your garage as a still resource. But in the case of Self-Driving cars or Automated Taxi Services, while you are sitting at your home, the cab that just dropped you home could be serving someone else with a ride. This is a perfect example of Full Resource Utilization.

This will also free up a lot of parking spaces (especially Public Parking Spaces) that are now used to park static cars. These spaces could then be used productively and creatively for other purposes that benefit the public. Hence, it brings about a Flexible Deployment of Resources wherein you can allocate the unused resources for something else.

Self-Driving Taxi Services can also reduce the number of hours that one spends in traffic or the traffic itself. Imagine taking an Automated Taxi Service that you also share with 4 other people, this would cut down the number of cars on the road by 3. Also, since the Self-Driving Cars have no human components, they stick to the traffic rules at all times. This would also reduce the number of erroneous decisions taken by each of the four passengers and cut down on the additional traffic that these decisions could cause. It may not be much significant in terms of these 4 people alone, but considering the wider public, this could cut down traffic by a huge amount. These additionally gained hours can be utilized for something better- perhaps spending more time with your family or getting to the office early enough to complete that extra piece of work.

To understand how this makes an overall impact. Imagine that you save one hour in a day, it rolls up to 30 hours per month which could be considered as 6 working days (8 hours/day). This is just from one employee. Consider the amount of impact this can have on a company that has hundreds or thousands of employees. It could bring up the productivity and thereby, the revenue by huge margins.

Self-Driving Vehicles could also change the way most of the companies operate. One example of the same is to use Self-Driving Vehicles in delivering goods and services. Consider a Company that has 100 human resources dedicated to delivering goods and services. Using Self-Driving cars for delivering goods, in this case, will help the company divert the group of 100 people to some other task – say manufacturing or procurement. Considering the Self-Driving cars as a one-time investment (very less operating and maintenance costs), diverting the human resource to a different section will again help to increase the productivity of the company by many folds.

Self-Driving Technology once employed in Public Transportations is sure to urge more and more people to stick to public transports. This, in turn, will cut down on the number of private vehicles in the road reducing emissions that cause Global Warming and other serious Environmental Issues. It will also bring down the exploitation of fossil fuels, thereby preserving them for future generations as well.

Self-Driving Cars

A Volvo Self-Driving Car

With the big players such as Google (Waymo), Tesla, Volvo, Uber, and many other prominent Automobile Companies investing heavily in Self-Driving Technologies, the era of Self-Driving cars are much closer than what we had expected. You can already see Self-Driving Cars doing trials in many of the streets in the United States. Let us hope that these companies are successful in their endeavor to produce highly Efficient and Safe Self-Driving cars.

Also find more articles here on Automation Wake | Self-Driving Cars

Reference for Road Accident Statistics WHO and  NDTV