COMMENTARY | A technology that offers to change the world is quietly sneaking up on us. Google, usually associated with Internet search engines, is testing a diverless car, according to the BBC.Nevada is the first state to approve them.
A driverless car would be able to navigate down roads and city streets using GPS technology, radar, and computers with software that can actually read street signs according to CNN. They would be safer than human driven cars because there would be no possibility of human error. Driverless cars would not tail gate, cut one off, or exceed the speed limit. Accidents as the result of drunk driving, distracted driving, or any other reason would become a thing of the past. Traffic jams would be alleviated as driverless cars, communicating with one another, could drive bumper to bumper at highway speeds.
Driverless cars would provide more mobility to the disabled and the elderly. People who, for health reasons, cannot drive a car could take a driverless car to a destination.
Of course a world with driverless cars has a number of consequences
Driverless cars would likely make taxi services and mass transit obsolete. Even if one did not own a car, one could lease one for a trip and not have to pay cab fare or be bound to a bus or train system. This would have remarkable effects on urban planning, not to mention the cost of mass transit. A subsidy for renting a diverless car for the poor may replace money spent on mass transit as a government benefit.
Driverless cars would also compete with short haul airliners and would make the dream of high speed rail obsolete. Why put up with airline security or spend tens of billions on rail lines when one can relax in the comfort of a driverless car on a road trip between cities, napping, doing work, reading, surfing the Internet, or watching a movie?
Another effect will be a drastic reduction in insurance premiums, according to a piece in Insurance and Technology. If driverless cars greatly reduce the number and severity of automobile accidents, then the cost of auto insurance will drop as well. There will also be a reduction in health care costs as the numbers of mangled drivers and passengers who have to go to the emergency room are reduced as well.