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Imagine being able to sleep and drive at the same time! While that may seem like a ridiculous concept, it may soon be a reality. In fact, Google Inc. has been working on the prototypes for self-driving cars since 2009 and hopes to have the vehicles available to the public in the near future. The cars have no need for gas pedals or steering wheels, because they operate independently of a driver, using laser sensors and cameras for guidance. While this may seem unsafe, there is evidence to support that cars are more secure than the vehicles we have today.
In fact, Google’s self-driving cars will not only improve safety on the road but will also reduce traffic.
There are many benefits that these autonomous vehicles have to offer. Most importantly, however, they will make roads safer for drivers. There are people, for example, who make the unfortunate decision to drive drunk and endanger the lives of others. Furthermore, individuals will often drive while fatigued, which can impair judgment, and lead to a car accident.
Self-driving cars could potentially change all of that. In fact, “According to one government study, computer-operated self-driving vehicles will eliminate incidents involving alcohol…and fatigue”. Perhaps most importantly, the self-driving car is likely to save lives. For instance, according to a study by the Eno Center for Transportation, “if 90 percent of cars, trucks, and vans were self-driving, in the region of 21,700 lives per year could be saved”. All of that being said, Google’s cars can make a significant and positive difference in the way that society functions.
In addition to improving safety, Google’s self-driving cars will also reduce traffic. Most people have experienced the inconvenience of being stuck behind a mass of cars on the road. Not only can sitting on the road waste resources like time and gas, but it can also lead to frustration or road rage. Therefore, minimizing the negative impact of traffic could significantly improve the way that Americans travel and live. Google’s CEO Sergey Brin has explained that the vehicles could “potentially…operate as a fleet of interconnected cars”, which would improve their efficiency and eliminate stop-and-go traffic. Not only would this make commuting more convenient, but it could also help to save money spent on gas. In a study done by the Eno Center for Transportation, it was “noted that when a majority of self-driving cars are on the road, they can begin ‘platooning’. In other words, because the cars would be able to communicate with one another, they could drive more closely together, like a train. As a result, “the negative effects of stop-and-go traffic could be eliminated”. Additionally, it has been noted that this platooning, “would allow for smoother traffic flows, reduce lengthy commute times and even increase “highway capacity”, and increasing highway capacity would also save the government money, which may help free up funds for other important social needs, such as education. Considering the benefits that traffic reduction might have on both individual drivers, and the society at large, it’s clear that the self-driving car has the potential to positively change how American society functions.
Google’s cars have a great deal to offer society in terms of both safety and convenience. Still, however, some may assert that they are too high in cost. While this may be true, it is also true that the high cost will likely begin to decrease as the vehicles are embraced by the public. As an illustration of this point, when smartphones first hit the market, they were significantly more expensive than regular cell phones at the time. Now, however, because they are in such high demand, most cell phone companies offer the phones at lower prices, in order to attract more customers. It is probable, therefore, that the same thing will happen with the self-driving car. Furthermore, when considering all that the car has to offer, including the ability to save so many lives, it could be argued that the cost is fully justified.
Considering the benefits that Google’s self-driving cars have to offer in terms of both safety, and the reduction in traffic, it is evident that they stand to change the future in a significant way. Most people, young and old, are affected by cars because it is the most common form of transportation in the United States. That being said, if the technology offers a way to make traveling more effective, it should certainly be embraced. Furthermore, utilizing these vehicles, because of their capabilities, will improve both driver confidence and the assurance of pedestrians. As a consequence, this could change the very way that people live. In fact, not only could it change how a person lives, it has the power to save their very life!
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