Updated: Jan 22
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, traffic crashes kill of approximately 1.35 million people from all around the world annually, and is the leading cause of death for people from the age of 5 to 29. This catastrophic death toll can be reduced by deploying new technologies like autonomous vehicles (AV), which have grown in popularity in the recent years.
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) predicts that autonomous cars can reduce 90% of traffic deaths, saving nearly 30000 lives in just one year. It is notable that USDOT has introduced human error as the ground of 94% of all crashes in 2017.
Now, the question is how self-driving cars can be safer and save people from traffic accidents. Well, a number of new motor vehicles have technology that helps drivers avoid drifting into adjacent lanes or making unsafe lane changes, or that warns drivers of other vehicles behind them when they are backing up, and also have the possibility of automatic braking. This means that even today’s motor vehicles are already helping to save lives and prevent injuries. The continuing evolution of automotive technology aims to deliver even greater safety benefits in autonomous vehicles by shifting responsibility for driving from humans to machines, this technology minimizes opportunities for behavioral errors.
Numerous major companies and research organizations have developed working autonomous vehicles including Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Tesla Motors, Continental Automotive Systems, Autoliv Inc., Bosch, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Volvo, Oxford University, and Google, and have already put their driverless cars through millions of miles of road tests. In December 2018, Waymo, the company that emerged from Google’s self-driving-car project, officially launched its commercial self-driving-car service in the suburbs of Phoenix. The details of the program—it's available only to a few hundred vetted riders, and human safety operators will remain behind the wheel—may be underwhelming, but don't erase its significance.
Unfortunately, fully autonomous cars are not available for purchase yet. Such vehicles are only allowed on the roads for testing purposes right now. And chances are, you couldn't afford one yet anyway. Adding driverless technology to a car would increase its cost to $70,000 or even $100,000. Luckily, you can now get your hands on a semi-autonomous Honda Civic for as little as $20,000 total.
In the past five years, autonomous driving has gone from “maybe possible” to “definitely possible” to “inevitable”, and finally to "now commercially available." So we should stay tuned, I’m sure the day that we all have our own driverless car isn’t really far away.