On August 25th, nuTonomy.inc, a company in Cambridge, launched the world’s first self-driving taxi service through six taxicabs in Singapore.
The test taxi used cameras and lasers to maneuver through the road, and people who had previously applied for the pilot run were able to experience the ride. Although there still must be a human driver present in the shotgun seat, the self-driving car proved to be very safe and was able to detect various obstacles on the road such as birds, pedestrians, and motorcycles.
With the groundbreaking significance of a robo-taxi, companies such as Uber have proposed plans to utilize self-driving cars for their services. Evidently, the development of this new technology has captured the attention and investment of many large corporations.
Because of the immense potential–and possible consequences–surrounding autonomous cars, people have had a wide range of opinions. Some are excited about the possibilities: these autonomous vehicles, if electric, would also have the ability to recharge on their own. Others, however, anticipate drawbacks to the technology.
Driving, regarded as a liberating milestone in a person’s transition to adulthood, may grow nonexistent as cars become yet another automated form of public transportation. This may radically change the job market as occupations switch from drivers and transporters to technicians and research analysts who monitor the functioning of the vehicles. While promising for some advancing companies that would benefit from the cars’ electric drive or autopilot, the shift may definitely knock down profits for businesses that relied on the driving consumer such as roadside inns, diners, driving schools, and gas stations.
Jung continued, “The issue with technology is that, for the time being, it does not have independent thought and decision making. Even in their fine-tuned form, self-driving cars should be tools for the driver, rather than something to be relied on,” said Austin Jung, a senior at Freedom High School from South Riding, Virginia.
“I’m really open to the idea of self-driving cars,” shared Kayla Yoo, a senior at Valencia High School in Valencia, California. “I think it’ll stop a lot of potential accidents on the road due to drunk driving or careless human error. Sure, there’s always risks when it comes to technology, but nothing good comes perfectly overnight.”
Although the prospect of self-driving cars is both exciting and daunting, it no doubt holds great influence over the near future. Perhaps this may be the next big step in the growing development of the technological world.