Update: Self-driving cars will change our lives


The Appalachian Online

Matt Zothner

Six months ago, I wrote an article titled “Self-driving cars will change our lives.” I received a lot of feedback, both negative and positive. Questions like “but what if the software stops working?” and “so the car will take over and run off the road, right?” were frequent. I’ve found this subject to be a great conversation starter, and draw many parallels to the topics of artificial intelligence and climate change.

The fact is that a lot of people, both young and old, are scared of this technology. The problem is, there’s no way to stop it. Autonomous vehicles will change our lives if we like it or not. Just as the people of the late 1800s couldn’t grasp onto the idea of a “horseless carriage,” the people of today can’t understand the necessity of a fully autonomous vehicle.

If you can trust an engineer to build a safe bridge and use it every day or even a, then why can’t you trust one to build a safe and reliable driverless car? Or better,

Autonomous cars will be better for the environment since they’ll be electric. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, states that by 2020, a range of about 750 miles should be feasible for the electric car, and according to hothardware.com, “full autonomy [of cars] should be achieved in three years, although Musk is quick to say that regulators wouldn’t actually allow it to happen for another 1-3 years afterwards.”

Most cars on the road today don’t even have a range of 400 miles and cost consumers thousands of dollars a year in gas. Autonomous cars will not only save money, but time and space as well. It’s predicted that by the 2040s, we could see millions of acres of parking wiped away, due to the fact that autonomous cars can drop off their passengers and pick up other ones without ever parking.

Companies like Uber, Google, and Apple are working on testing their autonomous cars. It hasn’t been stated explicitly, but Apple’s largest kept secret, titled Project Titan, consists of building some kind of electric or self-driving vehicle. Rumors show that this may be true, in part by Apple’s acquisition of top automotive leaders from Tesla, BMW, and others. In addition, a new tech-auto company called Faraday Future plans to roll out their speculated autonomous car by 2017.

When technology companies like Google and Apple focus on improving the automobile, boundaries can be pushed. Older carmakers like GM and Ford are getting anxious. According to Fortune, GM is looking to test autonomous vehicles within a few years, perhaps finally embracing the future of cars.

Autonomous vehicles will give us back our streets, reduce traffic, and save lives. The naysayers need to stop resisting this technology and the impending change it will create. It’s only a matter of time.

Zothner, a junior marketing major from Cary, is an opinion writer