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In an article published by The Financial Times, Campbell (2017) reports
that driverless cars can be expected to hit the streets commercially in the UK
as early as 2021, with road tests set to start in 2019.  Autonomous cars are expected to become the
norm of urban transportation within the next 10-20 years, and this paradigm
shift in commuting will have endless positive impacts.  The implementation of autonomous cars will
provide positive repercussions that will remove countless issues which continue
to plague traditional automobiles.  Presented
here are three of the countless positive repercussions that will develop from a
shift to autonomous vehicles.  These points
are increasing safety due to the elimination of driver error, decreases in
congestion as a result of pre-programed transport strategies, and a shift
towards more environmentally friendly commuting because of reducing vehicle
emissions.

 

Paragraph 2: Increasing
safety be eliminating driver error

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Through a survey conducted in Berkeley California, Howard and Dai (2014) show
that safety is overwhelmingly considered to be the most attractive feature of
autonomous cars.  This is for good
reason, a report published by The World Health Organisation (2015) shows that an alarming 1.25
million people die annually in traffic incidents, with an additional 50 million
people annually receiving non fatal injuries resulting from traffic incidents.  Traffic accidents are considered by The World Health Organisation
(2015) to be one of the leading causes of preventable death around the
world.  Safety has been one of the
forefront issues of the autonomous vehicle debate since the start, with critiques
of autonomous cars proposing that programmed computers will never be able to
replace human decision making (should I find a reference for this?).  The underlying issue with driving safety appears
however to be human judgement (NHTSA, 2015). A report published by the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (2015) attributes 94% of automotive
crashes to occur as the result of driver error. 
The simple act of removing the potential for human error by the
implementation of autonomous cars would have an overwhelming effect on
transportation safety.  It is reasoned by
Hayes (2011) that based
on the high standards which we hold autonomous systems to an appropriate goal
for autonomous vehicles would be to a reduction of road fatalities by 99%.  Hayes (2011) show that if this is achieved then based on the
number of deaths per mile travelled autonomous cars would become the safest
means of transportation when compared to both airplanes and trains.

           

Paragraph 3: Autonomous
cars as a means to reduce congestion

            In a report by Hars (2016) the validity
of common misconceptions that plague autonomous cars are evaluated.  Amongst the misconceptions mentioned by Hars (2016) is the idea
that autonomous cars will lead to increases in congestion because they will provide
easy access to transportation for anyone, regardless of having a driver’s licence.  It is noted however by Hars (2016) that although
autonomous vehicles are predicted to increase vehicle usage, they will also
bring about changes in the way in which cars are driven on the road; namely in
the form of driving behaviour, and enhanced road utilization both of which come
from programmable strategies.  Research
published by Stern et al. (2017) helps to support the
claim that autonomous cars will reduce congestion.  Stern et al. (2017)
used traffic simulations represent singe lane traffic to show that even with only
1 autonomous car in traffic controlled by human vehicles the autonomous car was
able to reduce congestion and decreasing variations in all the other vehicle speeds.

These congestion reduction measures demonstrated the effectiveness of
programmable strategies in autonomous vehicles as a means to reduce vehicle
congestion (Stern et al.,
2017), which the authors believe they can apply to multi lane motorways.

 Another way that autonomous cars will
reduce congestion is because of the anticipated decrease in traffic incidents,
which are shown to be the cause of 25% of traffic congestion in the United
States (congestion stat
reference)

           

Paragraph 4:
Autonomous cars as a means to reduce vehicle emissions   

Arguments against environmentally friendly autonomous cars look at
increased usage of vehicles due to more people being able to “operate them” as
well as increases in distances traveled by said autonomous vehicle.

            While implementation of autonomous
cars in urban society will likely increase vehicle usage it will reduce fuel
consumption due to congestion mitigation and the implementation of autonomous
ride sharing programs.  Stern et al. (2017) conducted congestion simulation studies which
showed that as a result of one driverless car in human driven traffic was able
to ease congestion by avoiding start stop traffic, they consumed less fuel.  This occurred as a result of decreased accelerating
and breaking (Stern et al., 2017).  Fragant and Kockelman (2013) note that in traffic
comprised of autonomous vehicles sensors in the cars will have the ability to
anticipate both braking and acceleration of the vehicle in front of it, leading
to a decrease in fuel consumption because of more gradual changes in vehicle
speed.  In a study on ride sharing
programs Fagnant and
Kockelman (2014) used computer simulations to model trips which took advantage
of autonomous vehicle ride sharing programs and compares them equivalent trips in
an average vehicle.  In the simulations Fagnat and Kockelman (2014)
are able to show a 5.6% reduction in the amount of green house gases emitted
from ride sharing when compared to equivalent trips taken in an average vehicle.

 

Paragraph 5:
Conclusions

            Autonomous cars are expected to become
the norm of urban transportation within the next 10-20 years, this transportation
revolution will have endless positive impacts. 
The implementation of autonomous cars into our society will provide will
remove countless issues which continue to plague traditional automobiles.  Presented in this essay are three positive
repercussions, as well as counterarguments to these points that will develop
from a shift to autonomous vehicles.  These
points are increasing safety due to the elimination of driver error, decreases
in congestion as a result of pre-programed transport strategies, and a shift
towards more environmentally friendly commuting because of reducing vehicle
emissions.

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