Every now and again it seems that technology finds a new, methodical or scalable way to impact nearly every single industry around us.
While the yesteryears, it could be said, were about evolution, the contemporary age, it may not be wrong to suggest, is about disruption.
That’s the way it was in recent decades and that’s the way it is to this point. With constant propulsion technology is making our lives better and enabling us to extract more from even rudimentary experiences such as driving a car.
For had it not been that way we may not have seen the emergence of cars with automatic transmission ever since manual cars started seeming mundane. And from that point on, there’s hardly been a dearth in innovation and heightened driving experience.
Today while on the one hand, much of the world is waking up to the electric car revolution, India herself gearing up with the next bright ‘context-driven’ change, there’s already a talk surrounding how hydrogen-powered cars could steal the show and settle the debate on range anxiety and efficiency.
And yet, there are constant developments that burst our bubble regarding mankind’s proclivity to innovate. The talk surrounding self-driven, i.e., autonomous cars couldn’t have been more relevant than it is today.
The fact that robotic cars can self navigate and drive on their own making way through various traffic turnstiles is both an enigmatic as well as a highly efficient idea.
It’s every bit worthy of being lauded as it is worthy of being debated.
But you’d think of the latter particularly from the standpoint of the relative newness of the concept. That Self- Driven cars are the next big step up in auto-technology is hardly debatable. But whether Self-Driven cars are, in fact, the go-to way forward is something that demands greater discussion and least of all, urgent introspection.
But why’s that? How can something that offers a whole new level of myriad benefits – such as solving our parking woes, offering greater concept for the design, based on nearly faultless technology, the added advantage of easing up congestion- even carry demerits?
Why’s it that some have already raised perhaps the most pertinent question few had dared to ask: whether autonomous cars can solve our transportation woes?
In the west, rational arguments are being based on the relative importance of self-driven cars. Whether they’ll actually reduce the propensity of people to drive or would they actually tempt more people toward driving further?
Now while the design component of the car may face a big challenge; whether they’ll become less energy efficient as different people will use these cars differently(you could run them at higher speeds because they’re safer and thus could consume more energy) there are also concerns that need to be addressed on the scale of emissions.
A general argument that goes against the mainstream adoption of self-driven cars is that mass use of autonomous vehicles could in fact increase carbon emissions up to 200 percent. It’s not a vague estimation of what could be a potentially dampening demerit; scholars and scientists have used computer models and techniques to predict the environmental impact of these futuristic driverless- vehicles and arrived at such a conclusion.
The “Should I go for it or should I not” doesn’t end here. If it does happen that the world wakes up to the need for Robo-taxis then it should be enquired further whether that model is sustainable or fully adaptable with respect to the consumer habit!
What do we mean here?
If the future is indeed self-driven cars then the world would rather want to function in a more sustainable manner. This precisely means the adoption and usage of shared taxis and retracting from private ownership of autonomous cars. Not only would that fundamentally impact the environment in a way we all desire and espouse for but will prove more economical in the end.
But is it going to be that easy, after all?
If one dwells on the lines of practicality then one would find that usually, more often than not, people are attached to their cars.
You’d rather own a vehicle. There’s got to be some reason why we even opt for used vehicles. Isn’t it? But where it comes to shared vehicles, then the concept might seem difficult to adapt to.
This could be down to several reasons:
The mess caused by unsupervised passengers.
The risk of increased vandalism.
Some surveys (according to rmi.org) indicate that even if autonomous cars were free as taxi services nearly up to a quarter of the public (or motorists) would keep their cars.
That told, putting it succinctly, one would have to note that in order to make this driverless world a reality not some divine bite of Utopia, one would need a clear action plan.
One would have to ensure pairing of other forms of sustainable urban transport policy with the narrative of autonomous vehicles in a way that leads to a creation of a separate and dedicated bike lane(s) and fast and efficient public transport networks if the idea is to take solid ground. One will have to find a way to integrate safe and autonomous shuttles or taxis with different means of integrated public transit if the cumulative idea is to succeed.
Until then the concept of autonomous vehicles shall always seem a novel and readily adoptable idea but one that in absence of solid planning and infrastructure investment could well fall flat on its face, something that’ll be rather disheartening.