Driverless Cars: The Beginning of Internet of Things

It is often said that driverless cars are the next big thing. The cars will operate using sophisticated software designed to sense objects in a car’s path, allow communication between in-car computers, and even brake and steer around unexpected hazards. 

Cars have always been an instrument of injury and death. The US Department of Transportation says about 325,000 car collisions occur nationally per year. Common car accidents in Albany, Portland, and Corvallis Oregon are concussions, herniated disks, and shoulder injuries. There is a huge push to move toward driverless cars to decrease the amount of auto accidents and make our roads safer.  Even the Department of Transportation says that eliminating collisions may involve making cars 100 percent driverless.

The introduction of the automobile into U.S. society dramatically changed many aspects of our lives – seen and unseen. Today’s car is a part of the fabric of U.S. society. Just as the invention and spread of the automobile brought tremendous societal change, the driverless car will bring its own sea change which could have numerous interesting aspects, some seemingly quite attractive, and others likely to be problematic.

What would a world filled with driverless cars look like? Forethought into some of the conditions surrounding driverless cars deserves attention. It is also important to note that many changes that might emerge in a driverless world will be entirely unforeseen until we’re in that world.

Nearly always, massive shifts in the lives and behaviors of citizens due to new technology occur gradually, as people begin to accept that technology. Some people 30 years ago laughed at users of cell phones, but then, in time, acquired one anyway.

                                Diagram of Internet Connected Technology in Vehicles

                                            Via, Davvi Chrzastek, CC

2020 is the goal for driverless cars to be on the road. By then, it is predicted that driverless cars will be available to the public.  Currently, cars such as the 2016 Volvo are equipped with various in-car sensors that can read a car’s environment and apply brakes or dim headlights, possibly avoiding some collisions. 

It’s only a matter of time, proponents say, before the price drops significantly, as happened with countless other technological advances. Some manufacturers have boldly predicted that not only will a driverless car be available for purchase in the future, but it will be affordable for all consumer price points.

Impacts from a driverless world could affect the workforce, decrease the cost of goods, create ethical dilemmas, and potentially save lives. The possibilities created by a new driverless car could change our lives as much as did the introduction of the first automobile. 

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