Editorials

What Could Self-Driving Cars Mean for Businesses?

The first concepts for self-driving vehicles can be traced back to the year 1500, when inventor and artist Leonardo Da Vinci created blueprints for an autonomous cart. However, it was not until the 21st Century that self-driving automobiles began to be seen as a viable technological development in the near future. 

With Tesla’s Autopilot software marking a leap in this area in 2015, the last few years have seen widespread speculation over how soon we may see self-driving cars widely used on public roads. Many believed that driverless vehicles would overtake (no pun intended) traditional vehicles by the year 2020. Although this hasn’t happened, it still seems likely that the driverless revolution is not too many years away. But what could this change mean for businesses?

The Possible Advantages of Self-Driving Cars

Studies have shown that 90% of automobile accidents are caused by human error. It is believed that a sufficiently advanced AI would be much more accurate at making decisions and controlling a vehicle than a human could be. The costs of commercial vehicle insurance would be likely to decrease for driverless cars in comparison to traditional vehicles, making them a potentially beneficial investment for business owners.

Experts also believe that carbon emissions produced by driverless vehicles could be significantly lower than those produced by the cars that we drive now. This is because the AI technology that powers driverless vehicles would enable these vehicles to detect other vehicles, traffic lights, and other factors in order to drive in a more fuel-effective manner. Vehicles could also form “platoons”, or groups that accelerate and brake at the same times, increasing fuel economy and reducing levels of congestion.

The Possible Drawbacks of Self-Driving Cars

Detractors and skeptics of driverless vehicles often cite safety concerns as the reason for their doubts about the viability of self-driving technology. In some cases, this is because they believe that the technology is not yet sufficiently advanced enough to safely replace manually operated vehicles. There is also the concern that driverless vehicles currently still need to be at least partially operated by a human supervisor who can step in to override dangerous decisions made by the vehicle’s AI. The need for constant supervision not only removed many of the purported advantages of the technology, but can also be dangerous itself, as people may be tempted to allow the AI to make every decision and take their eyes and attention off of the road.

In Tempe, Arizona in 2018, a woman was killed by a self-driving car that was being tested by ride-hailing provider Uber. It was revealed that the safety driver in charge of supervising the vehicle had been using their phone at the time. This tragic disaster may be why the company decided to abandon efforts to create self-driving cars in July of 2020. 

Final Thoughts

it is likely that the driverless revolution will happen in the not-too-distant future, for the time being business owners will have to rely on traditional vehicles to assist in carrying out operations. If you are considering starting your own business that involves the use of company vehicles, commercial vehicle insurance by Next Insurance is a worthwhile investment.

The potential implications for who is held legally responsible for driverless vehicle accidents is highly uncertain, making businesses often hesitant to get involved. While many companies will no doubt be eager to become early adopters of driverless technology, it is probably most sensible to wait a while for the technology to advance further.

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