The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

Posted: August 1, 2019

With the introduction of autonomous (self-piloting) automobiles, your morning commute may become just a bit easier. Although some cars are already equipped with a rudimentary form of driving automation (self-parking, proximity sensors, and lane change warnings), they have nothing on state-of-the-art vehicles that may not require your hands on the steering wheel––or even your eyes on the road.

Benefits of Self-Driving Cars vs. Your Fears

It may take a few years of convincing consumers they can trust their self-driving cars, but developers say the advantages of their futuristic creations strongly support the necessity for drivers to overcome their fears and let artificial intelligence chauffeur them wherever they want to go.

For the most part, cars don’t cause accidents––humans do. Without groggy, stressed, distracted, and careless drivers behind the wheel, you would expect the number of accidents to fall dramatically–right?

Are There Any Risks to Driving Autonomous Vehicles?

Self-driving vehicles are able to “see” their surroundings by relying on digital cameras, sensors, radars and other computerized components that send information to the car’s “brain”. According to some reports, programmers are developing intelligent algorithms that identify objects surrounding an autonomous vehicle and can even differentiate between motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.

Once the vehicle’s brain determines what kind of objects are surrounding the vehicles and how far away the objects are, it can execute decisions based on algorithms. For example, if you are sitting in a self-driving car and the lane ahead is closed because of construction, the brain instantly identifies several options. It could slow down to allow vehicles to pass first or it could change lanes.

How does an autonomous vehicle’s brain decide which option is best?

Autonomous vehicle algorithms act like neurons by learning from actions carried out in previous situations. This “teaches” the algorithm what to do in new situations. In a way, this kind of machine learning is similar to how your smartphone recognizes your face or voice.

So we know self-driving vehicles will definitely be a “thing” one of these days, but how safe will they be?

Driver Inattention

Critics say that “drivers” of autonomous cars may adopt a false sense of security while allowing a car to chauffeur them around and simply forget about monitoring road conditions. Drivers in control of their vehicles generally take less time to react to unexpected events than their passengers.

How’s the Weather?

What happens when snowstorms or heavy rains distort or hide painted lines on roads and make the sensor-driven navigation systems of self-driving cars erratic or, even worse, useless? Have makers of autonomous vehicles found a solution to this problem?

Accuracy of GPS Systems

Autonomous cars will depend on the accuracy of a GPS system’s mapping. Unless it’s precisely correct, the vehicle might turn into a dead-end or one-way street or fail to differentiate one street from another. If the GPS system isn’t perfect, there’s going to be problems.

Viruses, Glitches and Other Computer Malfunctions

If you have ever had a computer infected with malware, you know how weird and unpredictable it can act. From shutting off by itself to inundating your screen with pop-ups to freezing suddenly, computer problems can be aggravating and expensive to repair.

You are sitting in a self-driving car, enjoying your morning cup of coffee and checking social media on your smart phone, when all of the sudden your car decides to speed up, slow down, turn into a stranger’s driveway and swerve from one side of the road to the other. By the time you disengage your car, it may be too late. This could happen if your autonomous vehicle’s computer brain becomes infected with malware implanted by a hacker.

We are still years away from ditching manually driven vehicles for vehicles with self-driving brains. Regardless how advanced self-driving cars become, the potential for accidents will always exist.

Whether you have recently suffered physical injuries in a car accident and need a personal injury attorney or your self-driving car of the future gets hacked and crashes, William Mattar will is here to help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

Call our accident injury law firm to make a free, initial consultation appointment.

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