Self-driving cars and the future of humankind

The technology that enables autonomous vehicles is growing by leaps and bounds. (Pixabay pic)

To understand the significant impact of self-driving cars and how they will change the world, it is important to first understand the technology revolution.

Technological computational ability has been exponentially doubling on itself since Gordon Moore noticed this phenomenon in the 1960s.

Today, it has reached the point that self-driving vehicles exist. But beyond the vehicle, a whole network of technology supports self-driving cars.

Satellite technology is necessary as a means by which signals can be buffered and interpreted. Tracking technology and computation is integral in all modern vehicles.

With self-driving cars, this is expanded in a way that may be described as exponential in comparison with previous vehicular computation.

Vehicles that drive themselves have a highly sophisticated onboard computer that manages various sensors that help determine where the car should be on the road.

Self-driving cars are yet to be deemed fully trustworthy and there have been accidents. But, surprisingly, this is not the primary risk of self-driving cars.

A network in expansion

Everything today is networked together via the Internet of Things or IoT. Smartphones, computers, tablets, LED lighting in the home, air conditioning, smartwatches and the car; all are part of IoT.

This means all have remote access possibility and software interface so they can be hacked – and not the “good” kind of life hacks described in articles. Imagine if a car kidnaps someone! Decepticons and fake taxis in real life!

To avoid hacking and properly provide coverage for a network of vehicles automatically transporting people from location to location, remote control functionality needs to be fundamental in self-driving cars.

Imagine a situation in which something impacts the control of a vehicle, sending a signal to a remote safety office where employees are standing by to take the wheel and avoid an accident. Statistically, this could represent a reasonable means of bridging the technological gap.

This could also mean losing “ownership” of the vehicle. Imagine waking up one morning, rushing to go to work, but the car refuses to start. It then announces that one payment too many has been missed on the loan instalments before it drives itself back to the dealership.

An increase in automated driving technology naturally yields to a lessening of personal control while increasing the network’s control.

In Massachusetts, Texas and Singapore, ride-sharing cars driven by robots are available. (Pixabay pic)

Edge computing already uses IoT devices on a company’s premises to “float” an “edge network”. Cloud computing network servers spread out the strain of computing.

Edge networks do the same, but with more than servers. If millions of vehicles become automatically enabled, an edge/cloud hybrid will network their computers together for means of safety and control. Travel could be remotely planned and even restricted in the future.

Making an educated decision

Some may like having that kind of networked control providing a safety net for driving. Others would prefer not have their autonomy taken away by a computer they cannot control and is susceptible to hacking and glitches.

Everyone differs, but the key here is looking at all angles and making an informed decision.

There are online driving guide sites that provide in-depth driving-related resources while keeping an eye on future incoming technology, such as self-driving cars.

Fancy calling for a ride-sharing car driven by a robot? This can be done in places like in Massachusetts, Texas and Singapore.

At the forefront of self-driving technology are companies such as Alphabet (Google) through self-driving car project Waymo, auto manufacturer General Motors, NVIDIA self-driving cars technology, Magna which supplies auto parts including sensors, and Aptiv which develops advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).

Betting on self-driving cars

What has been described here primarily represents only a glimmer of the real possibilities.

The full scope of self-driving cars has yet to be realised. But the future of how we travel, how logistics and delivery is handled, and even how the world looks will surely change.

This article first appeared in MyPF. Follow MyPF to simplify and grow your personal finances on Facebook and Instagram.