Self-driving Cars: Now a Reality

Noble McIntyre on August 11, 2015

Sometimes we talk about the “generation gap” in technology between our lives and our children’s, or our parents’. College students today never knew a world without the Internet. Or mobile phones. Or streaming music or video. They might not remember what it was like before Netflix (the service began streaming movies in 1999—today’s college students were toddlers at the time). The reality is that children born today might not remember a world without self-driving cars. For most of us, self-driving cars are a fanciful notion we have from watching The Jetsons, but, as they say, the future is now.

What is a self-driving car?

A self-driving (or “driverless”) car can sense its environment and navigate without a human driver. Some features include sensors and hardware that is designed to allow the car to make “decisions” in road situations in order to keep its passengers and other motorists and pedestrians safe. Self-driving cars have primary and backup systems for steering a braking, software (like GPS) that directs the car to your destination without any human intervention, and a flexible windscreen and soft front material in order to be safer for pedestrians. Sound like a dream come true? Maybe. Some experts say that these vehicles are much safer than traditional human-driven vehicles, bit others disagree.

Human error is the biggest cause of car accidents. In fact, 94% of crashes are linked to human error. That factor would be lessened by self-driving cars. However, these cars are ultimately controlled by computers. Anything that uses a computer can be hacked, which means that outside sources could break in (remotely) to control the vehicle without the driver’s knowledge.

Check out the chart below for the pros and cons to self-driving cars. It will be several years before they are commonplace on the roads, but you might start to see a few in the near future.

New car technologies

Even if you’re not yet riding in a self-driving car, there are some new technologies that we’re beginning to see in traditional vehicles that are designed to make the driving experience easier and safer.

If you shop for a new car in the next few years, in addition to the “regular” features that manufacturers tell you about, you might also start hearing about in-car wifi, night vision with pedestrian detection, more emphasis on alternative fuels and enhanced parental controls.

By 2018, there will be backup cameras in every new car sold.

Since 2014, though, we’ve already seen some significant changes in new car technology.

  • 8.4% of new cars on the road last year came with new lane-departure technology.
  • 1.4% of new cars had adaptive cruise control, which means that the car would be able to automatically adjust its speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Over ten percent of new cars on the road last year had blind-spot alert technology. In a car equipped with this feature, there are cameras or radar that detect when other vehicles are nearby. If the driver activates the turn signal when another car is in his or her blind spot, the car will either use an audible alert or there could be a steering wheel vibration to alert the driver of the other vehicle’s proximity.

What does all of this new car technology mean for you?

It could mean several things. For one, these features are designed to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the roads. A whopping 37,000 people die each year in car accidents—that’s 37,000 too many. While there are no promises that any of these technologies can eliminate all accidents, it’s possible that they could eliminate some. Only time will tell whether that is the case. To learn more check out our infographic on car technology!

While the goal of the car manufacturers is to make driving a safer experience for everyone, we understand that at least for now, accidents do happen… too frequently. That’s why at McIntyre Law, P.C., it’s our goal to get you the compensation you need if you or a loved one has been injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident. If you’ve been injured, contact us today for a free consultation.

Noble McIntyre

Noble McIntyre is the senior partner and owner of McIntyre Law who focuses primarily on drug litigation and catastrophic injury cases. He is currently representing clients injured by the drugs Paxil, Levaquin and testosterone therapy drugs and by clients affected by oil field injuries. His goal has and continues to be to work diligently on behalf of his clients to achieve the highest and best result for his clients’ injuries while maintaining professionalism and abiding by all ethical standards of his profession. Read more about Noble McIntyre.

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