For decades, self-driving cars, also known as autonomous vehicles (AV), was an idea straight from sci-fi books and movies. Only in our wildest dreams did we think that people would take their annual road trips or daily commutes in AVs.
Living in such a tech-heavy society, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that major auto manufacturers want to see their AV models on the road by 2020. Some experts believe that there will be millions of self-driving cars on our roads in 2020 and even more mainstream by 2030.
While we may soon live in a world where we can kick back, relax, and enjoy the scenery while our cars do all the work, we’re likely to run into a few drawbacks along the way.
Researchers suggest that cost will be one of the biggest drawbacks when making self-driving cars. While Honda is rumoured to be working on an AV with the price tag of around $20,000, self-driving cars are more likely to be over $200,000.
Why so steep? The most expensive (and essential) parts of an AV is a laser sensor that constantly collects data and information to improves the car’s capabilities as it drives. A top-of-the-line laser sensor can cost over $80,000.
Even though there’s a strong chance that you’ll see and even drive an autonomous car in your lifetime, if you’re an average, middle-class adult in the U.S., you may need to wait until 2040 or 2050’s.
Ideally, self-driving cars will make our roadways safer than their current state. Today, approximately 93 percent of car accidents are a direct result of human error, which means that AVs will make better decisions that human drivers.
AVs have some of the safety features that we already have in our cars, such as crash avoidance, parking assist, and enhanced cruise control. These features will need to be fine-tuned and work constantly and seamlessly in self-driving cars. A big component of this is connectivity. If the vehicle has even the smallest lapse in connectivity, it could fail to function properly.
Threats to Connectivity and Technology
What could interfere with connectivity? A mechanical or technical error may be the first (and obvious) thing you think about but what about hackers? Living in a tech world, we’re constantly trying to stay ahead of people who are experts in hacking into secure and trusted technology.
One drawback of an AV that relies solely on a computer is that it could make it more vulnerable to being controlled (in an unsafe) manner by a hacker. Automakers need to take the time to ensure that all “what ifs” are covered and avoided.
Unclear About Responsibility
Although self-driving cars while are designed to be safer and law abiding, there is still the possibility of an accident, particularly if standard autos (operated by a driver are on the road). Another drawback may be the uncertainty of liability.
Who will be at fault? The auto manufacturer? The person who owns the self-driving car? Depending on the accident, there could be multiple parties at fault. There’s no clear answer, and it’s likely to put drivers and automakers, alike, in some legal problems.