Autonomous vehicles, current challenges and long-term effects.

September 2020 — Eng. José Luis A. Higuera.

The adoption of autonomos vehicles for everyone is expected to be a slow progress process. Starting especially by the deployment of such in emergency services, be it ambulances, troopers, etc. One of the next steps in line for humanity towards the aforementioned goal is partly lead by Ford, whom promise a totally autonomous vehicle by the year 2021. On the other hand, Tesla has, previously in 2014, designed an automobile in which system, composed by an ultrasonic sensor, radars and a set of front facing cameras, had a certain degree if freedom to operate on its own. In present days, Tesla is continuing their effort to release the next generation of such autopilot system.

The key elements that keep this newborn technology to walk solely on baby steps are those like relate to its legality, people’s data protection and privacy, and the security of the system. On the first case, the next question is asked: Who is to blame in a traffic accident in which the owner of a AV cannot take physical control to avoid such event? The next issue found is related to all the addresses and locations customers would travel to.

These are considered personal information that the vehicle’s system, as well as the manufacturer and third parties involved, should ensure to be able to keep safe and avoid it’s distribution. Last but not least, the security of the whole system raises another concern, this is due vehicles are meant to communicate between each other and there should be guarantees that not a single malicious actor can interfere with the autonomous decision-taking process.

In the long-term effects, 3 possible scenarios are proposed:

1. Technolgy changes but we don’t. It is thought that traveling by car will be safer, cheaper and more enviroment friendly. It also lies the idea that mobility will be improved, despite the influx in car owners, who previously, lacked the ability to drive by themselves.

2. Technology changes and so do we. This models the idea that it owning a car will become far more attractive as a means to travel which is estimated that will nullify the benefit in mobility by the previous scenario or even, make it worse.

3. Technolgy changes and a new ownership model is created. The last scenario extends the previous one, by means of adding the shared use of autonomous vehicles and thus reducing the negative effects on mobility. However, this would also make clear the hidden costs of automobile use, and could deter the willingness of people to acquire a car.

In conclusion, we are getting our feet wet, and getting close into a science-fiction future many of us could only had dreamed of, however, this is something that needs time to be developed and there should be no shortcuts taken. We require that companies ensure the minimum guarantees for our own both physical and digital safety.


Resources:

  1. Fred S. (2017, Abril 16), Análisis Especial: ¿Cuáles son los retos de los vehículos autónomos del futuro? - soloautos.mx  
  2. Fred S. (2016, Agosto 12), La segunda generación del Autopilot de Tesla ya está en camino, será más exacto y seguro. - soloautos.mx  
  3. Fred S. (2016, Agosto 16), Ford anuncia que tendrá un vehículo completamente autónomo para el año 2021. - soloautos.mx  
  4. Gruel, Wolfgang & Stanford, Joseph. (2016). Assessing the Long-term Effects of Autonomous Vehicles: A Speculative Approach. Transportation Research Procedia. 13. 18-29. 10.1016/j.trpro.2016.05.003.
Eng. José Luis A. Higuera.

Backend Developer, SysAdmin.

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