How Do You Feel About Self-Driving Cars?

By Grendelkhan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Self-driving cars are the future, no question. But how many people are ready for a future that could become commonplace as soon as 2020? I don’t know about you, but I am very ready for autonomous vehicles. Human error/apathy/rage/stupidity on the road seems to be worse every day and the minute we take people out of the driving equation, the easier I will feel.

Of course, driving has been a common part of our culture for over a century, so such a dramatic change will not be accepted overnight. If you feel nervous with your partner behind the wheel, how about no one at all behind the wheel?

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of people polled were not at all comfortable with that prospect when asked as little as a year ago. However, as people learn more about the technology and think about the advantages driverless cars offer, they are starting to come on board with the idea.

AAA reports that 70% of Americans are still uneasy about relying solely on technology to get around, but that represents a 15% decline over 2016. I suspect that number will continue to drop as more and more of these vehicles are tested on the road and do not get involved in crashes. Let’s face it: in the vast majority of cases, human error is what leads to vehicle collisions, not the technology.

Think about it: yes, there will still be plenty of cars on the road, so traffic will still be slow. But because of how precise the driving will be, they can safely travel just a few inches apart. You can also catch up on your email, Facebook, or even sleep during your commute. Who doesn’t want that?

That future isn’t here quite yet, but I can’t wait!

Here is footage of Waymo’s self-driving car in action:

Are Self-Driving Trucks the Future of Land-Based Shipping?

A familiar sight on most any highway, transport trucks have long been the go-to method of land-based hauling for everything from food to consumer goods. This will continue into the foreseeable future, but with a twist that will change this industry to a huge degree: the trucks will be self-driving.

Autonomous cars have received much publicity in recent years, but still seem like the stuff of science fiction. Meanwhile, scientists have also been developing this technology for use in transport trucks. Such an application would be unfortunate for the thousands of men and women who currently make their living as drivers. However, removing the human element from the equation could greatly reduce the number of accidents that occur due to fatigue and/or distraction.

Also, because these machines do not need downtime for sleeping, rest breaks, or eating, goods will arrive faster at their destinations. By law, humans cannot spend more than 11 hours at a time behind the wheel; a driverless truck could spend all 24 on the move, save for fuel fill-ups. The number of truck drivers has declined in recent years, meaning there are not as many vehicles on the road as needed. Autonomous transports could plug that gap very effectively.

In fact, self-driving trucks are already on the road, hauling refrigerators from Texas to California. At the moment, a human driver is also riding along to monitor progress and the program’s operation. However, when the makers feel that any and all bugs are gone, the human being will be, too.

The question at this point is whether increased acceptance of autonomous transport trucks will lead to faster adoption of driverless cars. Technology, marketing, and price are huge factors, of course, but once the advantages of driverless trucks become obvious, it is likely that manner people would seek to have that same option with their personal vehicle.