Today, more than ever, we have seen the effects of using cars and other vehicles for our daily transportation. From car accidents, environmental impacts, and just the sheer number of vehicles on the road, all have negatively impacted us all.
However, researchers have always been busy in finding solutions to such problems. That’s why they are continuously developing automated vehicles. The goal for such vehicles is to provide a safer, more efficient, and more sustainable way of transport. But could automated vehicles really be the answer to the transportation woes of the present?
Automated Vehicles Are Already Here
Automated vehicles aren’t a new concept. They have already been in development and been in use for years. There are levels to automation and what most people believe to be automated vehicles are those that don’t require human intervention. That is the main goal, to have automated vehicles that don’t need humans to drive them.
However, we can’t just jump into fully automated vehicles, can we? It can be disastrous to release such vehicles and test them in public. At least we’ll take them step by step. This has already been done in the previous years.
Most vehicles today already have automatic braking and speed regulation. Although most are still controlled by the driver, vehicles with such features are already in the first level of automation.
Full automation is further down the road at level 5. Trials are already being conducted all around the world and the results look promising. There are different scenarios as to how fully automated vehicles will be available. Researchers are looking into providing them for private use or shared use as a means of public transport. The question now is how it will affect us in different scenarios.
Fully-Automated Vehicle For Private Use
There are different possible effects of highly automated vehicles when they become available for private use when it comes to efficiency, safety, and environmental impacts. However, it is expected for people to travel far more miles than they would have before. That’s because the miles covered wouldn’t be limited due to driver’s fatigue.
Longer trips with fewer stops would be more possible and be more comfortable because drivers don’t need to drive anymore. That could help with safety and prevent accidents that are usually related to drivers falling asleep on the wheel.
Accidents per mile due to human error could also be reduced significantly. However, not all accidents are due to human error alone. There are some caused by other external factors and due to longer miles covered, there is also an increased risk of exposure to such factors. With that it can be extremely difficult to predict the probability of accidents.
Apart from that, privately owned fully automated vehicles could also lead to an increased demand for road infrastructures. Because traveling through land vehicles is made more convenient, many are likely to use it. That, in turn could result in congestion or the need to improve road infrastructures to accommodate more vehicles at a time.
Fully Automated Vehicles For Public Transport
There is also a scenario when highly automated vehicles are made available for public transportation. Since use of the fully automated vehicles are shared, then the number of vehicles that’s needed could be reduced.
This could have lots of positive impacts on cities. With fewer cars on the road, there will also be a less demand for parking spaces. Such spaces could now be turned to a better use of urban space.
The reduction of vehicles would also mean that there is also a decrease in the consumption of energy or natural resources for fuel. However, this is in a perfect world scenario when all would prefer to take public transport. There is no assurance that automated vehicles for public transport would be used by all those who previously owned private vehicles.
There is a proposal that fully automated vehicles be used in urban areas only for shared purposes or for taxis. When used for commercial purposes, it would also be possible to provide routes for automated busses to reach those that aren’t existent today due to low demand. Due to lowering the cost by removing the driver factor, the expenses can be reduced and can be offered in more areas.
The Appeal To The Masses
The effects of fully automated vehicles will still highly depend on whether people would be willing to favor automated public transport instead of having privately owned vehicles. People will have different opinions about the use of automated vehicles for public use. Even if it is used as taxis, there is still a difference in the experience of using vehicles as privately owned ones.