Autonomous Cars Are on The Horizon…But Will You Get Into One?

Published on February 24, 2020

The automobile industry has been advancing and evolving since it’s birth, opting to find new ways to appeal to the modern day consumer; to be efficient, progressive and necessary in our daily lives. It’s only natural that autonomous cars are coming to fruition.

Thanks to battery technology rolling out significant advancements within recent years, we’ve been introduced to the progressive and environment-friendly concept of electric cars. But eco-friendly isn’t the only concern of modern-day Americans.

Statistically, texting while driving is responsible for 1 in every 4 car accidents in the U.S., and to offer a bit more perspective here, cell-phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes per year, according to the National Safety Council. Meaning safety has become top priority for many Americans in their search for a vehicle. 

Top brands like Toyota, Ford, Honda, Audi and many more have introduced safety features like emergency-brake technologies and collision-avoidance; many marketing these features using the very real trope of teens and young adults distractedly driving, nearly finding themselves in an accident before their vehicle detects a potential collision and stops this nightmare from ever taking place. 

Brilliant, right? But this isn’t where we stop. With the advancement of A.I., sensory technology, infrastructure tech and more, the concept of a fully autonomous car is coming to fruition.

The question becomes whether or not we will comfortably leave the fate of our lives at the wheel of self-driving cars? 

It’s looking like it. Similar to when China announced their plan to release a fleet of autonomous cars with it’s version of Uber, Didi Chuxing, Lyft recently made their own move towards testing out self-driving vehicles.

According to TechCrunch, Lyft’s partnership with Aptiv— a global technology company that focuses on developing safer, more eco-friendly mobility options for the future— has offered insight that could be significant in determining how consumers receive the idea self-driving cars.

In January of 2018, Lyft announced that it would be utilizing self-driving cars for rides initially starting out as a one-week test run. But with the amount of customers engaging with this idea, one week extended into one year.

By December 2018, 25,000 autonomous rides were given; seeing ratings average out to be near perfect 4.95 out of 5 stars. By May of 2019, the number of rides doubled. By February 2020, the number of rides tripled

Autonomous cars have many appeals: they promote a safe option for people to get around; they promote carpooling, which could reduce our emissions footprint; and it’s theorized that these vehicles could even support the growth of cities.

But Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer, has a few concerns for an all-autonomous automobile world. “‘If people aren’t driving, how do you identify yourself?’ What about organ donation? What happens when people aren’t getting into car accidents?” Kapoor asked during a keynote at the MOVE 2020 convention; a valid question to pose considering in the U.S.,our primary form of I.D. is a license, and nearly 20% of organ donations come from fatal car accidents.

But Kapoor says these are only minor concerns in the grand scheme of autonomous cars and the potential they hold for our future. 

Though these vehicles aren’t expected to be sold to consumers for another decade or so, we’re becoming more familiar and comfortable with this kind of technology. Many cars are built with advanced driver-assistance systems, where features like automatic emergency braking and radar/sensory warnings are regular features.

We’re slowly easing our way towards a fully autonomous infrastructure. And with these vehicles covered in cameras and sensors that thoughtfully monitor the car’s surroundings, it’s only a matter of time that this technology will assure us of its safety–and its impact. 

Kristen Sallaberry is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in New York, she covers the realm of consumer tech and how these ever-progressing gadgets affect our lives. A creative writer and music-head, she also writes for online music publication, Sound of Boston, where she reviews and premieres new music, and co-writes a hip-hop focused column.

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