Entrepreneurship has always driven the boundaries in the automobile industry, from the first car created by Karl Benz in 1886 to Henry Ford’s assembly lines that began mass-producing the Model T in 1913.The current push for self-driving cars is no different. In the long run, removing human error from the driving equation will likely make roads much safer. Self-driving cars uses sensors that “see” 360 degree around them, and autonomous cars are never distracted from the task of driving. At best, people have a 200-degree field of vision, lose focus easily, and let emotions get the best of them, whether it’s succumbing to road rage or checking our phones.
Safer and more efficient roadways will lead to fewer fatalities, lower insurance costs, less traffic, and reduced fuel consumption. However, there are obstacles blocking the widespread use of self-driving cars, and the most serious ones make headlines that create concern. For these reasons, consumers are wary of the technology. Some municipalities have even banned the use of self-driving cars.
The fear is so rampant that 56% of U.S. adults say they would not ride in an autonomous car, according to the Pew Research Center. Regardless, the main players in the self-driving car race — iconic names like Tesla, Apple, and Uber — keep moving forward with improved autonomous technology. Tesla founder Elon Musk believes that in ten years, most cars coming off the assembly line will be autonomous, and he is angry that some reports focus only on the negative side of self-driving vehicles.
“They should be writing a story about how autonomous cars are really safe,” Musk said in a recent earnings call. “But that’s not the story that people want to click on. They write inflammatory headlines that are fundamentally misleading to readers. It’s really outrageous.”
Maybe Musk is right. Since January 20, 2016, there have been four fatalities involving cars that were driving at some level of autonomy, and across the globe, an average of 3,287 people die each day in automobile accidents. Autonomous cars might provide a solution to these tragic numbers.