3 Reasons To Be Excited For Self Driving Cars

By: Unknown, August 27, 2015
Since 2009 Google has been working on a self driving car project. The cars have autonomously driven almost 1 million miles, and a lot has been learnt. I'm excited for self driving cars, and below are 3 reasons why you should be too.

1- They're Safer

Nearly 1.3 million people die of road crashes every year, plus an additional 20-50 million people getting injured or disabled. [Source] That's a massive number. Self driving cars appear to be a safe way out. Over the past 6 years since Google started its self driving cars project the cars have only been involved in 11 minor accidents, with none of them being the fault of Google's cars. [Source]

Not only is it safer for those in cars, but it's also safer for pedestrians, cyclists, etc. Self driving cars are more aware of the environment and can not be distracted. If someone is crossing the road the car will be aware of it and stop or slow down based on the situation. A human driver may be too distracted or unfocused to notice there's someone crossing the road.

Below is a quote from an article on Medium that I recommend reading.
"Not only will a computer vision system be better at observing its surroundings than we are, it won’t be subject to the same human flaws that impair our driving. A self-driving car can’t get distracted; it will never get tired or emotional or impatient or intoxicated. Drowsy driving and drunk driving are dangerous behaviors that could disappear entirely."
Think about it. Fewer crashes, safer roads. Self driving cars will save something that is extremely valuable to all of us: our lives and the lives of those we care about.

2- They'll Be More Comfortable

For decades, cars have been designed for driving not for riding. Cars are just row after row of seats all facing the same direction. Even large 7 seat cars are just 3 rows of seats facing the same direction. Fast forward a few years from now when self driving cars evolve past the 2 seat design. You could have a 7 seat car where passengers sit and face each other. It'll be more friendly to have face to face conversations rather than face to back conversations. Compare the two pictures below to get an idea of what I mean.

Typical 7 seat car

What self driving cars could look like [Source]
So you can sit and have a nice chat in your car. It's a lot more comfortable and convenient this way.

3- Travel Times Will Decrease

Right now, the cars Google is testing on the street are slow. They're restricted to only 25 mph. But this is only the beginning. Early prototypes by Google were a lot more aggressive, but for now they have to be slow and careful as they improve and test their vehicles on the road. Overtime, self driving cars will be able to travel at the same speed as human controlled cars, perhaps even faster.

I imagine that with self driving cars, there'll be little to no traffic. Intersections will be safer and quicker to deal with. Cars will drive at a very high time efficiency without sacrificing safety.

A Few More Thoughts

Self driving cars could make it cheaper to travel in the future. Imagine an Uber-like service which allows carpooling self driven cars. As the technology becomes more affordable it could ultimately make it cheaper to take a self driven Uber than a manually driven one. Perhaps Uber itself will evolve as technology evolves.

Another advantage worth adding is that self driving cars are likely to be better for the environment. Read this article here. It'll take time but we're driving in the right direction.

I know some readers may be thinking that this is basically like trains or buses. The difference is that a self driven car will pick you up from your doorstep and take you to your destination at any time you want. You don't need to walk to a station and back. You don't need to wait for the train or bus to arrive. You just need to tap a screen or press a button and you're on the go.

The problem is that regardless of all the above, many people will still speak against self driving cars. I'm not saying that self driving cars are perfect, or that they'll ever be, but they're closer to perfection than regular cars. The day a self driving car is involved in a major accident you'll see a lot of people tweeting on how dangerous and stupid self driving cars are, but will ignore the fact that human driven cars account for over 1 million deaths a year.

Self driving cars are happening, are you excited?

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