They drive on the streets with you. Whenever you leave the house, one or two may go by without you even knowing. You’ve seen the advertisements for them. The new “self-driving” or “autonomous” cars are known across the globe.
Developers are promoting autonomous cars as the future of driving. Many argue that it’s an inevitable future. Others say it’s too far of a robotic advancement and that nothing can replace human decision-making on the road.
What exactly is a self-driving or autonomous car, and what does it mean for you? Modern Senior Magazine is here to answer your questions about self-driving cars and what they mean for the future of driving.
What Are Self-Driving Cars?
Self-driving cars, also called autonomous cars, are cars that drive without the help of a human driver.
These cars run on computers programmed to safely and effectively navigate on busy streets and highways. Sensors and cameras throughout the car relay information about the car’s surroundings back to the main computer. These are the “eyes” of the car, aiding the computer in making educated decisions to navigate the roadway.
According to developers, self-driving cars may be safer than human drivers. The computer won’t engage in risk-taking behaviors such as driving under the influence. The computer will not have to combat feelings of tiredness or anger while driving.
Developers believe that the severity of car crashes would be reduced. Over 90% of accidents reported today are based on human error. Having self-driving cars on the road could decrease that number.
With a computer driving the car, human error no longer comes into play. However, many opponents argue that a computer won’t be able to effectively or ethically make a decision in the event of an emergency.
What Does This Mean for Seniors?
For seniors who no longer are able to drive and for people with disabilities, self-driving cars could bring a new level of independence. Seniors who once had to rely on transportation from family or paratransit buses would be able to travel of their own accord.
This would be a huge change for the aging population. You would no longer have to give up keys to your car. You would not need to rely on friends and family for transportation or schedule a day out with a paratransit bus. Driving at night would not be a concern.
With this freedom, you’d be able to stay in contact with your social circle and pick up groceries in the same trip. You’d never need to worry about driving home from Bingo night ever again.
Ones to Watch
Here at Modern Senior Magazine we have made a list of the top 3 manufactures that have already introduced a self-driving or autonomous car to the world. These are ones to keep your eye on as the world moves towards autonomous driving.
Google’s self-driving car will start and go anywhere at the push of a button. The prototypes, which have hit the streets for testing in select cities, are completely driverless cars. They rely on computers and a 360-degree sensor to keep the car moving. Google’s goal is to ensure that everyone can drive.
The new Volvo S90, released this year, is advertised as a “semi-autonomous” car. At the driver’s command, the luxury sedan can assist in steering, braking, and parking. The car also has autonomous features including a safe following distance, ability to change lanes, and sensory detection of people and large animals in the roadway.
Tesla, the car company of Silicon Valley, does not advertise their Model S as autonomous or self-driving. Instead, they call their autonomous features “autopilot”, there to assist you when needed.
Their Model S contains upgrades for highway driving that can take control while staying in lane, changing lanes, speeding up and slowing down. These features will also help park the car for you. Finally, an extra upgrade would enable you to “call” your car from your cell phone to have the car waiting for you in your driveway as you walk out the door.
While there is no set timeline for these self-driving cars to hit the road, the technology is already in place in new car models today. Many proponents say fully automated cars could be a standard on the street as soon as 2020- which is only a few years away. Pricing has not yet been released, so there’s plenty of time to start saving for your future investment.
The open road calls. There’s nothing like the excitement of planning a road trip, or driving to the airport for a vacation. Now you can do a Sudoku while your car navigates you and your loved ones to your destination.