Self-driving cars are no longer science-fiction; they are just around the corner of becoming mainstream. The idea is that vehicles will be completely autonomous without any need for human intervention or manual navigation. However, as with any new technology especially one involving the transportation of human beings from point A to point B, there are inherent dangers involved.
Danger #1 – An Unregulated Industry
Because information about the technology is limited, and although 200 car companies are jumping into the self-driving car space, there are not enough solid facts to create a baseline for safety standards. As yet, the industry is unregulated which is excellent for manufacturers but bad for consumers.
Before purchasing a self-driving car, buyers should first do a vin number lookup and find out as much as they can about it.
Danger #2 – More Accidents Blending Self-Driving and Manual Cars
Currently, American highways and side roads have not yet been optimized for self-driving cars. Driving is unpredictable, and because every possibility has to be programmed into the vehicle, accidents and unforeseen results will happen. The car may not have the proper software to know how to navigate extreme weather conditions or tricky congestion patterns.
Sometimes self-driving cars give the passengers a sense of false security when really, they should be extra cautious and ready to take the wheel at any given moment should the need arise.
Danger #3 – Vulnerability to Hacking & Remote Control
Any computer device connected to the internet is vulnerable to hacking. These cars also rely heavily on the software that runs their components, and if a hacker gets into the system, they can control every aspect of the car.
Other dangers to be aware of are the theft of private data and even gaining remote access to a cell phone connected to the car via Bluetooth. Self-driving vehicles may also be more susceptible to computer viruses.
Danger #4 – Computer Malfunctions
Most self-driving cars are made up of not one but 30 to 100 computers. That is a lot of technology where things could go wrong. The software that runs self-driving cars is admittedly sophisticated. However, one of the more difficult challenges that engineers struggle to solve is how to operate smoothly in all weather conditions. Correctly controlling sensors on the rear camera is also an issue. A particularly dangerous glitch is how to know when to execute a quick stop when someone is in the crosswalk in front of the car. Other concerns that should be solved before these cars hit the road are freeze-ups during autopilot mode, and how to account for the unpredictable behavior of other motorists.
The human component also confounds developers of self-driving cars, and they have yet to figure out how to make a vehicle decide between two bad options: hitting a pedestrian or another car. Self-driving cars are supposed to perform better than people but in these types of situations, “better” may be subjective because self-driving cars may be more dangerous.
Danger #5 – Exposure to Radiation
With all the goodies on board like GPS, remote controls, power accessories, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, music and radio components drivers will be increasingly exposed to higher levels of electromagnetic field radiation. Exposure to electronic radiation can cause a myriad of serious health problems. Some of the more serious issues are high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, migraine headaches, eye issues, exhaustion, and sleeplessness.
Experts predict that self-driving cars will eventually save lives and be safer than manually driven vehicles. The positive aspect is that lemon cars can be prevented. However, there is a long way to go before that happens, and the industry will have to solve these issues and develop solid safety guidelines and standards beforehand.