What until recently seemed like a utopia is getting closer, as I mentioned in my last column. It is estimated that, by 2050, thanks to the widespread use of autonomous cars, the number of accidents may be reduced by more than 80%. Before long, the roads will begin to embrace no-one-at-the-wheel transportation. With the adoption of autonomous cars, the world as we know it will change and we ask ourselves, what will the future be like with them? One thing we can be sure of is that thanks to autonomous vehicles the law will change and we may even see a decrease in car accidents.
Many people fear autonomous vehicles because they think they could be more prone to a traffic accident; however, the vast majority of accidents are caused by human errors, such as miscalculations, ignoring signs, violations of traffic laws, or making a turn on a street in the wrong direction, etc. How many times have you turned down the radio while looking for a parking space?
In addition, this technology will be a great help in terms of mobility for people who live with a disability, or for those who are too young or too old to drive. Now we can all move without problems since it will be the vehicle that will do everything for us. Another revolutionary aspect is the efficiency in fuel consumption. These cars are designed to optimize the cost of it, and in most cases, they will be electric. Thanks to its software, people will stop thinking that they are the protagonists of the Fast and Furious movie, since these vehicles avoid sudden speed changes skids so a reduction in CO2 emissions can be expected. The planet will thank us.
Changes in cities
Leaving aside the subject of the vehicle itself, the cities will also have to be redesigned. With the arrival of these vehicles, we contemplate the appearance of the famous robot axis, that is to say, there will be a system where the cars will simply leave you at your destination and go to serve the next client -go preparing for the marches of taxi drivers-. Thanks to this there is a great possibility that the need to build huge parking lots will be reduced and these areas could be reused and rethought as new urban spaces, which, if you ask me, should be turned into green areas. I hope that the administrations begin to contemplate fixing all the potholes and sinkholes, starting with the one in Puebla!
As for the laws, they will also have to be changed. In fact, Germany and Israel are already in this process and could be the first countries to allow “hands-free” driving. In other legal aspects, insurers will have to redesign their policies. Although it is true that collisions will decrease, it does not mean that they will disappear, and this leaves some questions. If the person did not cause the collision, who will be responsible? Was it the car, the passenger, or the manufacturer? How will these cases be handled? How will the cost of car policies change?
In America, New York City is already testing the feasibility of using these vehicles. We will be able to observe the changes in the infrastructure, streets, and highways that will be needed. It is possible that, in the future, as the cycle path exists, we may see designated lanes for autonomous vehicles or that the streets go through a restructuring, to ensure that cars can “see”. For example, lane lines should be well-defined and markings should be clear.
Some people speculate that with the arrival of 5G, autonomous vehicles will be dependent on this network to be able to operate. This idea does not seem so crazy to me if we take into account that we require the Internet to use the GPS (Global Positioning System) system, without However, according to Mobileye -a company with significant advances in autonomous vehicles-, these cars must be designed to work without connectivity; This is for security reasons since this type of car must be able to function in all environments, including spaces that do not have cellular network coverage, such as some highways, tunnels, and underground parking lots.
The future is always closer than we think and technology is the engine that drives it. According to Elon Musk, within 20 years “having a non-autonomous car will be just as austere as riding a horse.” Musk together with his company SpaceX is going a step further, what’s more, they have already announced that there will be a spaceport in the Gulf of Mexico, from where they will travel from one point to another on earth in less than 30 minutes. The world is already preparing, but after seeing all the necessary changes, it seems that in Mexico there is a long time before we can adopt autonomous vehicles. According to data from the 2019 report, in the first year of the current government, spending on research and experimental development represented 0.29% of GDP, the lowest proportion so far this century.