Have you heard of the iCar, the self-driving vehicle being tested by Apple? Or perhaps Waymo, Google’s autonomous car initiative? Now, the latest addition to the autonomous driving family is “Harry” – the driverless pod trialled in London. But are these autonomous cars actually safer, as the manufacturers promise? And does this mean the start of the end for traditional driver control on our roads?

The rise of intelligent technology

We may still be a good few years away from seeing a large fleet of driverless cars on our streets, but it’s very interesting to look at how an autonomous car differs from a human driver. These differences can teach us a lot about how AI (Artificial Intelligence) can improve our lives and businesses in many other areas.

8 reasons why a driverless car drives better than you

  • It doesn’t drive drunk
    Every year, an average of 3000 people in the UK are killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents involving drunk drivers, and almost one in six deaths on the road are caused by alcohol. From this perspective, the driverless car is of course a safer option as it is completely tee-total.
  • It reacts quicker than you
    The average reaction time of a human driver ranges between 0.7 to 3 seconds. An automated sensor system in a driverless car can respond to the same threat in microseconds – with the ability to make an instant judgment call on what manoeuvre to make, where the human may just engage a panic-fuelled reflex.
  • It doesn’t get distracted
    As humans, we often think we are good at doing a number of things at the same time. However, we can get mesmerised by many different things happening in or outside the car. Something interesting on the radio, traffic incidents around us or beautiful nature views are things that can distract us – but won’t have any impact on a driverless car system.
  • It doesn’t get road rage
    Even a calm and collected person can get agitated by other drivers from time to time. When someone drives dangerously close or steals your parking space, it’s hard not to react. And when your mood changes, it can impact future driving decisions. This is of course something you’d never have to worry about with an emotionless car driving itself!
  • It doesn’t get tired
    Another driver issue is drowsiness or reduced alertness. Tired drivers cause a large proportion of road accidents, where an automated system could go on driving for any length of time without its driving ability being impaired.
  • It follows traffic rules
    In theory, anyone can get behind the wheel of a car and drive it into traffic – with or without a licence or the necessary knowledge to drive. A self-driving car, however, comes pre-programmed with thousands of scenarios and traffic rules that it follows – with the ability to continuously learn and interpret new ones.
  • It isn’t restricted by disability
    One of the most powerful benefits of the autonomous car revolution is the potential life-changing impact on people with disabilities, and on those who have conditions that make them unsuitable to drive. It can offer them the freedom and mobility they wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • It prevents congestion
    By monitoring surrounding traffic, the self-driving car can ensure it keeps a pace that is not only safe but also helps improve the traffic flow overall. This of course means less time queuing in traffic as well as lower emissions.

The ‘intelligent car effect’

Whatever we may think of the future of driverless cars, we believe it’s safe to say that we’re only seeing the beginning of AI involvement in our everyday lives. The reasons why the driverless car is in many ways a safe and dependable alternative are the same reasons why automation and AI will play a growing part of the future of business.

Faster, smarter decision-making, processing and operation – the sky is the limit when it comes to what we can do with the help of intelligent computer technology. But don’t worry; human brains will still be very much necessary!