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Are Self-Driving Vehicles The Next Step In Mass Transit?

A social desire for self-driving vehicles is nothing new. In the 1950s, a General Motors commercial predicted that by the 1970s, all vehicles would be self-driven. While that did not happen, technology that permits vehicles to drive without a driver’s input is already here. Self-driving vehicles have a number of benefits, such as eliminating incompetent or distracted drivers.

Google Robocar Racetrack Ride

Benefits Of Self-Driving Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles have a number of benefits for institutions that provide mass transit services.

First, institutions will not need to pay a driver to operate the vehicle. When spread over a fleet of taxicabs or busses, this savings can amount to millions of dollars every year. This savings will permit the business flexibility to expand, grow, or simply distribute the earnings to the shareholders. This cost does not merely encompass the employees’ salary. Employees are also expensive to hire in terms of benefits and regulatory compliance costs. By eliminating these costs, businesses can save on overhead and taxes as well as employees.

Second, reliable technology can eliminate human error. According to a Manhattan accident lawyer, most automobile accidents occur due to human error. Humans are imperfect beings, and tired or impaired employees can have reduced reaction times and motor control. In contrast, technology is constant and reliable. Computers never get distracted, call in sick, or become intoxicated. Increasing the safety of the passengers can reduce exposure to liability in the event of a collision, as there will be no employee records to attack.

Problems With Self-Driving Vehicles

Self driving vehicles are not perfect.

First, reliable self-driving technology is expensive. Having a vehicle outfitted with the systems necessary to operate without a driver can cost far more than years of the drivers’ salaries. Less advanced or poorly designed systems can be unreliable and cause harm to other drivers. To address this issue, the technology must be vetted through thorough trial runs before being deployed on a fleet of commercial vehicles.

Second, transit companies are businesses like any other, and those businesses must control shrinkage. With no occupant to monitor passengers, vehicles can be exposed to vandalism or theft. Disappearing panels, wiring, and seats can increase the cost of operating the vehicle. To resolve this issue, operators may consider hiring a single employee to monitor many vehicles. This will still be less expensive than having many drivers monitor each vehicle.

Finally, not all vehicles will be self-driving. Human operators can usually detect when another driver is about to make a sharp turn or brake abruptly based upon the driver’s movements and the vehicle demonstrating subtle changes in speed or in lane position. An alert driver can respond accordingly and prevent an accident before it happens. Technology may be able to determine the distances and speeds of other obstructions on the road, but accounting for other human error is exclusively in the realm of other humans.

Despite these concerns, reliable self-driving vehicles are already here. In recent months, Google has logged over 300,000 miles in its driverless cars without incident. As the technology becomes less expensive, it will see widespread use in mass transit as a cost reduction measure.

Chris Bennett is an automotive enthusiast and contributing writer for a Manhattan accident lawyer. Victims of a car accident deserve compensation for all the damages whether caused by a negligent driver or a self-driven vehicle. By giving a few simple details about your accident, this Manhattan Accident Lawyer site can arrange for a consultation with a competent attorney to represent your case.

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  1. Salena Taylor

    October 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm


    I really like your idea of self driving cars.Your article is very helpful for the people who are wishing to have self driving vehicles as you have mentioned benefits and advantages too.


  2. John

    January 4, 2013 at 11:20 am

    While I like the idea of self driving vehicles, I have to admit, I wouldn’t want to ride in one. The logistics of controlling every vehicle, traffic patterns, and breakdowns seems like a complete nightmare and an accident is just waiting to happen. I just think we are ready for them yet.

  3. Julie

    January 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Living in the Chicago area, I would love something like this. It would be like having your own taxi driver to worry about the stop and go traffic. I could also work while riding when would help with free time with the family.

  4. Rue & Ziffra

    January 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    This poses an interesting scenario about automobile accidents and who would be at fault if an accident did happen. Would it be the company or the owner?
    In theory, it would take away many dangers on the road but I’m not sure if I would be comfortable with a computer driving me wherever I went and all the time. Just like everything in life, I can come up with pros and cons.

  5. Lee

    February 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I think cars are going to have a role to p,ay in the future. Especially on our motorways and freeways. Wouldn’t it be nice to get on the motorway then switch to self drive have your lunch and take over control when you leave the motorway.

    Great idea thanks Lee

  6. Mick Hogan

    March 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Self driving vehicles are already making good impression among car owners. Despite I like this new technology. I think safe journey and driving experience self driving vehicles will keep handy contribution in the future. Thanks. 🙂

  7. Thomas Williams

    March 15, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Although we are a long way to go to embracing the self-driving technology, we are already using some of the technology in smaller doses. For example, Ford (and recently Audi) has already incorporated self-parking technology into their cars. As self-parking becomes a norm, I think more people would be more open to the concept of self-driving. While this is going on, companies need to continue improving the technology of the car parts towards the concept of self-driving.

  8. Charles

    April 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

    If these self-driving cars earn licenses to drive by themselves in the streets, will the laws of driving change?

  9. Lily

    May 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Wow i like the idea of having self-driving cars. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Dorothy

    June 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Technology is changing everyday and it is adding latest features at everything. I have read about this kind of self driving car about a year back. I was thinking that it is a great invention but it will not be perfect to let it drive alone. Because, it will run through a program and it cannot think anything beyond that program. This will create the main problem most of the time.

  11. Fern

    March 11, 2015 at 12:56 am

    I can see lawsuits because the car did that and did this. wow.

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