Autonomous Cars and its Immediate Future

December 11, 2017

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles have been developing rapidly since the 1970s, and the promising outlook has been experimented by multiple corporations including Audi, BMW, Apple, Uber, and Google. More specifically, Google’s self-driving car project was announced in 2014, and in December 2016, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, launched Waymo which is an independent autonomous vehicle technology developing company. Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, hopes to create a unique software and sensors which is both safe and efficient. Throughout 2016, the company was ambivalent whether their first commercial product will be trucking business or autonomous taxi service, and as of November 2017, the Waymo officially announced that their first product will provide self-driving taxi service.

More specifically, Waymo has been researching and testing their products in Phoenix, Arizona. Industry watchers agree that Phoenix will be an advantageous state for Waymo to experiment and initiate their operation because of consistent sunny weather and well-protected streets. Overall, Phoenix has well-maintained traffic compared to other major cities as well.

The company has also released a video of the autonomous car driving people, which proves the company’s confidence in its technology to safely drive their customers.

The industry researchers have long debated about potential advantages, disadvantages, threats, and opportunities of fully transitioning into autonomous vehicles, and to a great extent, the benefits seem to outweigh the drawbacks. First, self-driving cars will reduce the total number of car accidents. Because the car’s software is programmed with a complicated algorithm, the system can quickly and accurately calculate the appropriate stopping distance from other vehicles and other factors that humans tend to neglect, which can reduce a dramatic number of accidents happening. The automated vehicle can respond to its externals more smoothly than a human driven vehicle. Furthermore, the researchers project that the environmental benefits will be apparent in a long run with self-driving cars. For example, the vehicle will more accurately calculate when to accelerate and decelerate which can save a tremendous amount of car energy over time. In addition, well-developed GPS and detailed map can assist the car to take the most energy efficient route.

After all, the technology is developing faster than ever it did in the past. If people aren’t prepared for the upcoming innovations which supposed to benefit us, people will be in chaos, and the potential benefits cannot be maximized. Hence, the society should always strive to anticipate and investigate new technology.

<Chloe Lee /Fairmont Prep 11 th Grade>

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