Sunday, May 18, 2014

Guest Post: Driverless Cars: Environmentally Friendly -- But are They Safe?

[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts of possible interest to readers. Today's post on driverless cars comes from Nadine Tate-Swayne]

Modern technology continues to improve the auto industry by leaps and bounds. People who own new or almost new cars today have become accustomed to having such high-tech luxuries as satellite radio, GPS navigation, and voice-activated telephone dialing.

However, one of the most innovative improvements to hit the auto industry involves self-navigated systems that make the cars of tomorrow driverless. Indeed, driverless automobiles will soon be introduced to the masses as a select few industry insiders have already witnessed firsthand how this revolutionary invention can change the way people own and drive cars.

Even as the technology dazzles automobile insiders, however, the question still remains as to how safe these cars truly are. Tech experts, both inside and outside of the automobile manufacturing world, consider these factors when gauging how safe these vehicles are to own and use.

Ecologically Sound Design

One of the primary benefits being advertised with these cars is the fact that they run primarily on electricity rather than fossil fuels. This ecologically sound design makes this mode of transport attractive to people who want to avoid harming the environment with their car ownership. While not an outright safety feature, the fact that this vehicle is safe for the environment does add to its innovation and appeal to the market.

Better Braking than Human Drivers

According to the website, driverless automobiles are safer than ordinary human drivers. These cars break better, faster, and with more precision during busy traffic or unpredictable road conditions, thus allowing them to escape being in wrecks as often as humans.

The fact that people can get into a car, program their destination into the vehicle’s software, and then sit back while the vehicle safely navigates, even the busiest traffic, makes this automobile very appealing to safety experts and to people who want a safer and better way to drive their families.

So far this is proving to be safer than human drivers, but there is still a question of how human drivers will react alongside a driverless car. As this phenomenon becomes more and more popular, it is highly possible that our poor driving habits, curiosity, and lack of attention will cause even more accidents than before. Ultimately, that could cause more injuries and legal issues for all drivers , regardless of who is or "is not" driving. Determining who is liable may prove to be one big headache.

More Efficient Navigation

Travelers who are driving in unfamiliar places often get lost and need to stop for directions or use their GPS systems to find their way. These vehicles, however, outperform their human counterparts by finding their way around an area in better time and with more efficiency.

The program inside the car allows the driverless vehicle to pinpoint the best route and maintain a good speed to and from the entire destination. In comparison to human drivers, these vehicles made better time and experienced fewer obstacles when navigating a route.

While this technology has been in development for years, it was officially tested recently in Florida among this state’s busy highways. Google took part in the studies and allowed insiders to watch as its driverless Prius cars drove along the Florida roadways with ease and grace. With that, Florida has its eye on leading the nation in driverless technology.

The state hosted an event in Tampa last year that allowed automobile executives to witness firsthand these vehicles and learn more about how these cars can benefit both the industry and the public. Even more, the University of South Florida continues to take part in important studies and development projects that could launch these vehicles to the public very soon.

Cars that do not need actual drivers could come to the market sooner than expected. These driverless automobiles continue to be scrutinized for safety features and technological benefits. These discovered facts about this technology could help people view them to be safe enough to own and use daily.

Nadine Swayne is a freelance writer who loves all things cars. Since hearing about the driverless car she has become intrigued and was inspired to write this article. Though she is not completely sold on the idea, she can definitely appreciate the technology involved.

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