#007 Top 5 Benefits of Self-Driving Cars
Who can benefit from self-driving cars?
In general, there is no doubt that everyone will benefit from self-driving cars. First, society, from a safety standpoint, benefits from eliminating most of 30.000 fatal accidents per year. The elderly and disabled can enhance independence. Also, commuters can benefit by turning their boring drive to work into a relaxing time. They could safely pursue more productive or entertaining activities, like responding to emails or watching a movie. Not to mention annoying traffic jams. Scientists have shown that a few autonomous vehicles can prevent such jams, and also in some cases double the average speed of surrounding vehicles.
1. Less traffic
Starting a traffic jam is very easy. All it takes is that the driver in front of you brakes suddenly. The driver behind you will also brake as well as the next driver. That will trigger a shock wave of stop-and-go reactions that can travel backward for kilometers.
How to prevent similar situations? Scientists have shown that a few self-driving cars can reduce huge traffic jams, and in some cases double the average speed of surrounding vehicles.
Research shows that only one autonomous vehicle is enough to control traffic flow. Several vehicles equipped with intercommunication technology were used in the experiment to send position and velocity data to the vehicles, and only one had self-driving technology. The self-driving car manage to speed up traffic by keeping a distance between the cars, forcing human drivers to brake less often. This driving style increased average speed and saved about 20% on energy from connected vehicles.
2. Increase in safety
Simply by taking human emotions and errors out of the equation, deaths on the road can be reduced by 90 percent. Most of accidents on the road are the cause of driver error. Physical limitations like eyesight and reaction time are common reasons for car accidents. Other reasons include use of alcohol, drugs, speeding, aggressive driving, inexperience, slow reaction time, ignoring road conditions or drivers simply not paying attention and being distracted on their phones or with the radio. Because the overwhelming problem appears to be the driver, car manufacturers and technology experts believe autonomous vehicles may be safer than those driven by people. Some studies showed that if 90 percent of cars were self-driving over 4 million accidents would be prevented. Also, more than 20.000 lives would be preserved and more than $400 billion in related costs would be eliminated.
3. Looking for a parking is over
Let’s imagine a following situation. You arrived at the shopping center and you must spend half an hour driving around looking for a parking space. Or, you’re going out for the evening. You are not dressed for a walk and the nearest parking space is 500 meters away. Self-driving cars can be programmed to let you off at the front door of your destination, park themselves, and come back to pick you up when you call them. Isn’t that awesome? You’re freed from the boring and annoying task of looking for a parking space, because the car can do it all on its own. And the best thing is, it doesn’t really matter how far away that parking space is.
4. Higher speed limits
Speed limits are there for good reasons – to reduce the number of casualties on the roads. Humans are good judges of relative risk, but we are poor judges of absolute risk. It is true that speed limits saved many human lives, but it’s not that just speed causes the accident. It is sudden changes of speed that causes most of the casualties. So, if all the traffic is traveling at the same speed, in the same direction, the absolute risk of a serious accident is very low. Vehicles communicate with one another and they are all programmed to maintain a certain distance between them. They also all know when to expect each other to stop and start. This means higher speed limits can be achieved, as the concerns about collisions will be all but eliminated.
5. Children, elderly and disabled persons will have much easier mobility
Self-driving cars can ease the burden of transportation for blind elderly or disabled people. Blind people can get to work just as easily as sighted ones. Programming the car to pick up people, drive them to their destination and then park by themselves, will change the lives of the elderly and disabled by providing them with critical mobility. Further, parents won’t have to worry about getting their kids to school in the morning, picking them up in the afternoon or driving them to football practice. The car will be capable of doing those things all on its own.
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