When you watched a scene with self-driving car in action movies, have you ever feel impressed that you wish it exist in real life? Yes, driverless car has now become a reality. Tesla, Google, and Uber are among the pioneers that are willing to invest in this technology. Some believe that driverless cars bring more benefits to human and earth but some insist that this technology has several adverse effects. So are we ready with driverless cars on road yet?
No Driver, No Problem!
Capability of the driverless cars to create more free time for human is one of the reasons why this technology is being accepted in the society. Department of Transport reported that about 235 hours are spent by the driver in England on the road per year. This amount of time is equivalent to almost 6 weeks working hours. Just imagine how beneficial the driverless cars will be if they took over the action of driver instead! People trust driverless car as a form of utilitarianism where this technology might ease daily life of human. Finding parking spaces is sometimes a hassle for human. But driverless car is able to solve this problem by having a special feature to park itself.
Imagine how troublesome it is to go back and forth everywhere on public transports especially for disabled people? Sometimes they might need constant reliance on others to get them moving. Since they are parts of the community who have the right to enjoy the benefits, the stakeholders’ views are considered in making the autonomous cars a reality. Applying the Freedom Principle ethic, this action can be executed for they can still choose to own the self-driving cars while they can continue riding on public transports which transform their lives into better ones without interrupting others. Well, it is a common-sense that this group of people requires more personal or private access to mobile cars so that they feel comfortable.
Nowadays, flipping through newspapers without accident cases on the headlines is a rare occasion. Most of them reported humans’ misbehaviour as the major contributor to those accidents whilst humans are totally responsible for their actions on the roads. Are they not aware of this? Well, maybe they are but seems like humans have inevitable limited capabilities that are concluded as misbehaves instead of errors. The advanced technology incorporated in autonomous cars exceeds humans’ abilities to determine certain speeds and distances and are not likely to be distracted hence building interest in stakeholders around the globe to support this action. Following the utilitarianism ethic, driverless cars should be implemented since they will significantly reduce the number of accidents as desired.
Less fuel usage means greener! Research from Department of Energy (DoE) found that driverless cars could reduce energy consumption up to 90 percent. This is because they are able to maintain a steady speed and avoid sudden break action which lead to reduce in fuel usage. However, since driverless cars make travel easier hence people opt to travel extra miles than staying at home. This might lead to increase in fuel usage. Yet, the improvement in driverless car is expected to operate with electricity which will offset the excess fuel consumption.
With a well-developed driverless car technology, it can be a lifesaver!
Are you confident enough to ride on driverless car?
Even though there are significant benefits offered by driverless cars, will the fast-paced and perilous situation be avoided and continuously controlled by these cars?
Despite the fact that development of the self-driving cars could help in saving more lives, these cars might malfunction in adverse weather or rough terrains. In fact, the roof-mounted sensors could be interfered on rainy day as well as camera could be covered by snow. The inability of the system to detect the pedestrian effectively could also result in fatal accident. The most recent one involving driverless Uber that caused the death of a pedestrian in Arizona.
This highlights the limitation to the artificial intelligence system in which it is incapable to react in certain situations. Although these matters will be resolved over time, the current technology is still in early stage. Hence, the owner of the vehicle will put themselves and other road users at risk for public testing. From a non-consequentialist point of view, the action of having the self-driving cars on the road is considered to be non-morally acceptable. It is inherently wrong to put other lives at risk even though it could bring greater benefit in future.
This also lead to discussion of the ethical dilemma faced by the fully automated car. Imagine a scenario where the driverless car on a two lane highway and suddenly there is a pedestrian crossing the road. Will it choose to risk the lives of the passengers by swerving to the side to save the pedestrian or vice versa? In the similar situation, humans make decision intuitively. Yet, to what extent the human judgement is reliable than an AI since the majority of accident is caused by human error?
The protection of privacy also become a critical issue in driverless car. From virtue ethics perspective, the privacy invasion is possible by the act of irresponsible parties since the use of driverless car will require a wide range of personal data including driver details, location and journey history. Nowadays, it is easy to hack cars on the road. What do you think about driverless car that would one day depend solely on computers? Yes, the computers in driverless car could be hacked.
The launch of automated car will cause a significant change in transportation sector. Driverless cars will eliminate the need for a driver and this results in loss of job for them. Google has started testing self-driving truck in Atlanta and there’s a possibility that no human supervision required when the system is fully established. This might benefit the company in reducing labour cost but will this benefit the driver?
So, would you allow a self-driving car to take you around? Or do you doubt this technology? Let us know in the comments below!