There is a wealth of information available on the web about self-driving cars. The question is, are they worth the investment? We’ll try to answer that question along with a discussion regarding the pros and cons of self-driving cars.
Autonomous vs. Semi-autonomous automobiles
Autonomous cars are truly self-driving cars. They require no action from the passenger(s). Semi-autonomous cars can lane correct if you are drifting out of your lane and auto break if you are getting too close to another car or pedestrian. Some can self-park and come to you from the place they are parked.
In this article:
- A brief history of self-driving cars (past)
- A brief history (present)
- Research costs and benefits
- When will they be available?
- Pros and Cons
- Are they worth it?
1. A brief history of self-driving cars (past)
The idea of a self-driving car goes back as far as 1939, but in 1961, the company Aeromobile introduced a self-driving hover car, the 35B, that could travel up to 150 Mph. This car was not mass-produced but it was way ahead of its time.
2. A brief history (present)
These companies are currently developing self-driving cars;
- Apple. © iStock/Fazon
Apple has yet to publicly discuss their self-driven car but they are clearly working on a project. In 2018, Apple reportedly teamed with Volkswagen to produce a self-driving employee shuttle van.
- Uber. © Uber
Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG) hired 50 people from the Carnegie Mellon Universities’ robotics department. In 2016, Uber started testing the self-driving Volvo XC90 in its hometown of San Francisco. After a week of testing, the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Ubers test vehicle registration. The company moved its test program to Arizona.
- Volvo. © Volvo.
Volvo plans to release its self-driving XC90 sometime in 2021. Volvo has a current starting price of $46,900.
- Waymo © Alphabet. …
Originally a Google project, Waymo became a stand-alone company in 2016. Waymo started a trial of a self-driving-taxi service in December, 2018.
- Mercedes-Benz. © Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz Is using teams in the U.S. and Germany to develop the S500 self-driving car. Research cars can currently navigate the streets of California without a driver.
- BMW. © BMW
BMW has 5 levels of car drive modes from 1 being fully human controlled to 5 with full automation. Imagine driving in complete darkness. BMW experimented with their i3 with passengers and absolutely no light. The test was a success and the passengers were shocked and amazed. No prices or release dates were available on their site.
- Nvidia. © Nvidia
Nvidia is focusing on self-driving car technology. They have an autonomous car “brain” known as NVIDIA DRIVE AGX. They are also developing software that delivers an open, full-stack solution of libraries, toolkits, frameworks source packages and compilers for vehicle manufacturers. Nvidia is currently partnering with car makers, truck makers, mobility services, mapping companies and sensor companies among others in order to deliver complete solutions.
- Tesla © Tesla
Tesla reports that their current cars with their semi-autonomous technology can be upgraded to driverless (autonomous) cars through over-the-air software updates. Their current semi-autonomous cars can self-park, navigate autonomously on limited access freeways and be summoned to you from parking garages and parking spots.
- Toyota © Toyota
Toyota says it will offer test drives for their “Toyota LQ” in September, 2020 in Tokyo. Toyota’s self-driving car technology, Yui is similar to Alexa. It will play mood music, interact with passengers and keep the driver alert when the car isn’t driving itself.There are others emerging.
3. Research costs and benefits
As of early 2020, companies have spent more than 16 billion on research and development. The first players to market are expecting market growth from $54.23 billion in 2019 to $556.67 billion in 2026 according to Allied Market Research estimates.
4. When will they be available?
This question is up for a lot of debate. Some are saying that these cars will be available in taxi form in 2020, others say the first cars won’t be available until 2030. The first available date will surely be somewhere in between.
5. Pros and Cons
Pro: Robots don’t drink alcohol
Drinking and driving is a worldwide problem. Robots don’t drink, so they will never be stopped for a DUI/DWI. They will also never be involved in an alcohol-related accident.
Con: Accidents will still happen.
Technology is never perfect. Self-driving cars will still crash from time to time, people will be injured or killed.
Pro: Driver error is the cause of most accidents
Weather, bad roads and poor distracted driving cause 94% of traffic accidents. Self-driving cars eliminate driver error.
Con: Some jobs will vanish
Bus, truck and taxi drivers have a reason to worry. If a computer can successfully complete these tasks, why do you need to pay a driver?
Pro: Robots are never distracted
Robots won’t talk on the phone, text or do any other silly thing a driver might do. They do one thing, drive.
Con: Driving will be less important or become trivial
Car enthusiasm may drift away from many people’s lives. Some young drivers today don’t dream of owning their first car. Some don’t even bother to get a driver’s license.
Pro: People don’t pay good attention
People in today’s age have an attention span of only eight seconds. How many people are constantly scanning the road ahead, the side-view mirror, the rearview mirror and checking their blind spot? These are things many of us learned in drivers education.
Con: Regulation will be very difficult
Rules of the road vary from state to state. Will/should we allow the federal government to regulate our roads? Should the individual car manufacturer be allowed to write their own rules?
6. Are they worth it?
As of now, it’s hard to know how much self-driving cars will cost. Some say self-driving (autonomous) cars will add $100,000 to the cost of the car. That’s a lot. For many, maybe too much. As time goes by and new car manufacturers release self-driving models, prices should go down.
Do you want to be an early adopter? Let us know in the comments section below.