Although it seems as if driverless cars are a product of the distant future, based on the work Google has been doing that future could come much sooner than we think.
From the moment self-driving vehicles first hit the streets, many people questioned how exactly they would affect the other people on the road, including bicyclists and pedestrians. One of the big questions today is, “Will autonomous cars mean more commuters and traffic congestion?”
According to a senior principal scientist for Toyota – North America, history shows that when you make driving easier, people tend to move into more rural areas. The scientist also believes that these areas may become even more attractive if commuting is less frustrating with a self-driving car. Of course, more commuters means more traffic on the roads. One possible solution might be specified lanes for self-driving cars – similar to the carpooling lanes found around large, metropolitan areas of the U.S.
Other, more far-ranging questions include whether or not automated vehicles will be more controllable than human-driven cars. Could states also set up limits on how many automated miles may be driven? What happens if the vehicle is involved in an accident? How vulnerable are they to hackers?
For better or worse, until these vehicles are tested, approved, and out on the roads in large numbers, no one will really know their long-term impact on our current transportation system.