Although our vehicles still require drivers to pilot them safely, cars of the future will be fully automated. Today, there are so-called autonomous vehicles for sale; however, they can’t safely drive to a destination without any input from a person. U.S. News & World Report calls them “cars that are almost self-driving” and makes it clear that Level 5 totally autonomous cars won’t be on the road anytime soon. However, the technology is advancing, and it’s fueling the semi-automated automobile market every year. There are 10 reasons why this is happening.
Reduced Collisions on the Road
There are many risks on busy roads. If a driver makes one incorrect maneuver, a collision will occur. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), about 94% of car crashes are caused by errors while a person is behind the wheel.
In order to prevent accidents, a driver has to react extremely fast. The problem is that certain emotions can reduce response times behind a wheel before a collision. For example, if a driver panics, he or she will have less time to make a critical maneuver on the road.
According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, self-driving automobiles can reduce fatal accidents by 90%. This is possible because an autonomous car’s technology reacts faster than a human’s reflexes do.
Fewer Traffic Jams
Traffic congestion is a major problem in the United States. The American Society of Civil Engineers conducted a study to learn more about this issue. Per its report, Americans typically spend billions of hours every year in their cars surrounded by traffic.
According to the assistant professor at the University of Illinois, autonomous vehicles can resolve this problem. If only 5% of the cars on the road were autonomous vehicles, there would be less congestion. This makes sense because all traffic jams are caused by typical human behaviors. Autonomous vehicles have advanced systems; they won’t create stop-and-go traffic like people do.
In most states, the busiest cities have frequent traffic jams. This is a big problem as the environment suffers when hundreds of cars create emissions on congested highways. If there is less gridlock on busy roads, CO2 emissions will drop.
Autonomous cars will help the environment in a smart way. As concluded by Ohio’s University’s Future of Driving report, autonomous software has the ability to lower emissions.
When new-age cars are released, the climate in most cities and communities will change if many people replace their traditional vehicles with high-tech models. If the transition occurs everywhere, daily emissions will decrease by nearly 60%.
More Open Lanes for Drivers
The State Smart Transportation Initiative conducted a study. According to the research, if more autonomous vehicles were on the road, they could improve the highway capacity in the United States dramatically. The study also involved expressway travel. This research shows that autonomous cars could boost travel speeds on expressways by over 20%.
Reduced Fuel Consumption
Many automobile companies are taking strategic steps to make their vehicles fuel efficient. Autonomous technologies will give all automakers big advantages in the future. The current technology can improve a vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 10% by managing speed more efficiently on a highway. A vehicle’s pace is the key because it influences fuel consumption. Autonomous technology establishes the right pace by accelerating and decelerating at the right moments.
In the future, autonomous vehicles will mimic a train when they travel as a group on a road. Because software controls autonomous vehicles, they will slow down and stop less frequently while they’re strategically spaced apart.
Automated technology saves fuel in two ways: It lowers a vehicle’s peak speed to conserve fuel, and it maximizes speeds during key moments to decrease the total travel time.
There is a commercial market for autonomous vehicles. In the future, these automobiles will overshadow traditional trains, taxis, and buses in large cities. Most cities need autonomous vehicles because they don’t have as many reliable sources of transportation for local citizens. The problem relates to infrastructure; in the United States, many cities lack resources that can support public transportation programs. This issue has created a void, but autonomous cars can fill it.
Great Benefits for Seniors
During another study by the USDOT, the organization focused on seniors and people with disabilities. According to the report, a basic vehicle modification can help these individuals reach their destinations safely.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee was also on board. This organization believes that autonomous cars are great for seniors and people who are differently abled. The committee has stated that autonomous vehicles can drive these individuals to doctors’ appointments, work, or a family member’s house quickly and safely.
Joseph Coughlin from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab is also a fan of autonomous cars for seniors. He has expressed that fully automated vehicles will close the gap in aging populations where most people don’t have a dependable and safe source of transportation.
Fast and Affordable
Most Americans waste valuable time in traffic every year. Autonomous vehicles can cut a typical driver’s total travel time by 40%. In big cities, heavy traffic congestion is the reason why many Americans lose billions of hours on the highway. If more people buy autonomous cars in the future, this will no longer be an issue, and the new technology will reduce their fuel costs by up to 40%.
Lower Taxi Fares
When fully autonomous vehicles arrive, they will change the taxi industry. In the Future of Driving report, there are details that break down why autonomous taxis are the future. The biggest change will be the total wait time. Instead of waiting five minutes for a regular taxi, most people will be able to acquire an autonomous taxi within seconds in the future.
Also, since an autonomous taxi won’t have a driver, the fare will be cheaper. According to the report, the price could drop to about 50 cents a mile.
Better Parking Opportunities
Most cities have dedicated areas for parking. This is an issue because every dedicated parking location increases real estate costs. Autonomous cars can eliminate the need for many of these parking zones. When a passenger steps out of an autonomous car, it can park itself near the destination or in a distant location if necessary.
Toyota’s Advantages for Current Autonomous Vehicles
Toyota has three fundamental elements of automated technology. The fundamentals are perception, prediction, and planning. Perception helps Toyota’s systems combine data and information, prediction gives a vehicle the ability to gauge where people and objects may be, and planning helps the software make smart decisions based on the prediction.
These fundamentals define Toyota as a brand, and they will drive their development teams in the future. Toyota hasn’t released a fully automated vehicle yet. However, the company does have a few semi-automated automobiles for sale. The Toyota RAV4 is a great example; the 2018 edition is equipped with an adaptive cruise control system.
In the future, there will be more vehicles with better advantages for fans of Toyota and other forward-thinking carmakers. For now, drivers can appreciate the benefits that current semi-autonomous cars offer.