Eleven benefits of self-driving cars

01 Dec 2019

While autonomous vehicles are an exciting new development, some people are uncomfortable about handing over the control of their cars to a computer. However, these fears are quite unfounded.

Self-driving vehicles, controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), are governed by logic, which means they always make the best decision based on their programming. They are also less likely to make the careless errors that a tired or distracted human driver might commit.

These facts mean self-driving cars offer offer several benefits. Here are some of them.

Better road safety

As we mentioned earlier, autonomous cars do not make the errors of a tired or careless driver. They also have a faster reaction time. Plus, with 5G connectivity , they will have more information about the condition of the road ahead as well as the traffic.

As a result, they are able to make faster, more accurate decisions, reducing the risk of collisions thanks to split-second reactions and real-time traffic information.

Reduced traffic congestion

With fewer collisions and pile-ups, self-driving vehicles will ensure that traffic moves smoothly. 

Even if there were no accidents, most traffic jams are caused by people creating stop-and-go traffic, especially when facing bottlenecks, lane changes, or other such situations. 

Autonomous vehicles, driving at a steady pace, eliminate this stop-and-go style of driving, leading to fewer traffic jams.

Reduced CO2 emissions

While future vehicles are most likely to be electric , even ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) autonomous vehicles could have lower CO2 emissions. This is because these cars can be programmed to drive in an eco-friendly way, thereby reducing the amount of CO2 they emit.

Increased lane capacity

As mentioned before, driverless cars can react faster than human drivers. As a result, they can drive at higher speeds and don’t need to have the same stopping distance between vehicles.

Since they also reduce congestion, traffic will move along smoothly, without disruptions. This means that roads could accomodate more cars without the traffic stalling.

Reduced fuel consumption

Fuel consumption is affected by the way you drive. Sudden acceleration and deceleration can hike up the amount of fuel a car consumes. Autonomous cars, on the other hand, are programmed to drive smoothly. 

Since they don’t speed up suddenly or brake sharply, self-driving cars are much more fuel-efficient. 

Another factor that could improve fuel economy in the future is that driverless vehicles are much safer, as they don’t get into accidents. This might mean they don’t need to be as heavy (which cars often have to be, in order to protect the passengers). This would reduce the fuel consumption even more.

Accessible mobility

People with certain disabilities can often find it difficult to drive, even with modified vehicles. Additionally, older people might find that they are unable to drive due to failing vision and reduced reaction time. 

This loss of mobility (and dependence on someone else) can be very frustrating, especially for someone who was previously quite independent.

With self-driving cars, they will be able to move around much more easily. Driverless vehicles could allow them to get around independently, without having to rely on anyone else.

Connecting commuters

While public transport does help improve connectivity, sometimes there might be gaps in the connection, creating a need for last mile services. 

Autonomous vehicles will be able to supplement public transport, filling in those gaps. 

Lower commute time and cost

As we’ve established, autonomous vehicles can help make roads safer, with the traffic moving steadily. They also optimise the fuel consumption of the vehicle. 

This means drivers will be able to get to their destination faster and spend less on fuel as well.

Affordable taxis

One of the biggest expenses for taxi operators is the salary of the driver. The other, of course, is fuel. 

With self-driving cars, not only are fuel consumption and cost reduced, but they also don’t need a driver. As a result, these will no longer be major expenses for taxi companies and they could pass on this benefit to their customers.

Increase in tech jobs

Whilst it is true that self-driving cars will affect many jobs in the future, like food and parcel delivery drivers or some public transport roles, the introduction of this new way of driving will end up creating more jobs in the tech industry.

Automobile manufacturers will require machine experts, software developers, wireless network engineers, and other qualified people for autonomous vehicle production.

Better health

The benefits of autonomous vehicles are not just limited to the roads. They also have a direct impact on the health of drivers and commuters. With reduced CO2 emissions, and other emissions created when burning fossil fuels, the air we breathe will become healthier.

However, driverless cars will also benefit the mental and physical health of commuters in other ways, as the ride to work will be smoother and stress-free. 

Long, tiring commutes can affect the blood pressure of drivers and passengers. They can also cause anxiety, which, in turn, could be a factor in depression. All of these contribute to poor cardiovascular health, and affect sleep quality, which can also cause other health problems.

Autonomous vehicles benefit the health of commuters by reducing most of the driving stress. Not only is the ride less disrupted but they also don’t have to focus on making decisions that could affect their own lives and the lives of others on the road.

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