Essay on the Self-Driving Vehicles in the United States
Number of words: 2316
Technology has turned out to be the platform of any successful entity all over the world. It entails the dependency on the application of knowledge by deploying it in various objects and organizational forms with the aim of attaining particular goals (Volti, 2008). Technology is continuously contributing to the growth and development of the world by improving efficiency in most operations. For instance, the self-driving car technology is among the current innovations that are going to change the lives of people. The technology entails the manufacturing of self-driving cars. The engineers who presented the idea are considered as the pioneers of this technology evolution that saw several self-driving car laboratories rise all over the United States. Many companies across the globe are interested in the development of the technology and are in the process of testing their vehicles. For example, Google Incorporation is in the process of testing its self-driving cars in various parts of America. The technology became popular in 2012, which marked a grand milestone for the engineers of the self-driven cars (Arthur, 2012). The road regulating bodies are expected to offer guidelines regarding the use of vehicles to enhance accountability and safety in the sector. Currently, most firms are involved in testing the technology in most parts of America, particularly in Arizona and California due to their vast roads. In that regard, it is indisputable that the technology is going to initiate significant changes in the automobile industry in the near future.
Knowledge Underpinning This Technology
Self-driving car refers to a type of intelligent vehicle that moves from one place to another based on information attained from automotive sensors such as car control, path environment perception, and route. The main feature of this technology is transporting objects or individuals to predetermined destinations without human drivers. A self-driving vehicle is a product of highly developed intelligent control, pattern recognition, and computer science technology (Zhao, Liang, and Chen, 2018). The vehicles’ system integrates the automatic control, computer vision, artificial intelligence, and architecture technologies in transporting individuals from one point to another.
In comparison to the manual driving, the technology uses automated equipment instead of a human driver in controlling a vehicle. In regard to this feature, the core technology of self-driving vehicles is classified into four, including the navigation system, environment perception, path planning, and car control. The car navigation system is responsible for finding out the current location of the vehicle and the route to take to the destination (Zhao, Liang, and Chen, 2018). The car navigation system coordinates with the geographical information system and the global positioning system to guide the car in the shortest possible route to reach the destination.
On the other hand, the global path planning is utilized in the determination of the optimal driving path between the start of the journey to the end. In most cases, the technology uses path-planning algorithms such as Floyd and Dijkstra to merge the electronic map information and determine the optimal path(Zhao, Liang, and Chen, 2018). Moreover, environment perception offers the necessary information for the vehicle’s control system. The car is supposed to independently perceive the surrounding to avoid unnecessary accidents. Therefore, through the laser, radar, and visual navigation, the environment perception feeds the control with the necessary information. Finally, the car control, which includes the direction and speed control is responsible for the management of the vehicle. The control point is fed data from all the other parts to manage the movement of the car.
The developers behind this technology raised the idea as a result of the extensive development of artificial intelligence. The current world is moving towards an era of automation, whereby machines handle most tasks. The engineers, therefore, sought to come up with an automated car that never requires the control of humans as a way of making things easier.
Key Actors in the Self-Driving Vehicles Technology
Similar to any other technology, there are key stakeholders in the development of self-driving cars. For instance, the government is one of the main actors in the technology. However, the federal government still restricts the use of autonomous cars due to safety issues and other aspects. Nevertheless, it supports the technology by supporting research involving its development. According to Shepardson (2018), the US government provided $100 million for research on driverless car development. Such support is critical, as it ensures the technology is developed to avoid unnecessary accidents that may see it declining.
Insurers are the other actors in the development and adoption of self-driving cars. The technology is going to benefit the insurers greatly, as it improves car safety, implying that their repair costs will reduce drastically. However, in the long run, the technology is going to affect the insurers negatively, as many people will consider third-party policies due to reduced accident risks (Tobe, 2016). Therefore, the insurers are highly concerned about the adoption of the technology.
Universities and colleges are also among the major actors of self-driving vehicles. Many educational institutions in the United States are contributing to the adoption of the technology. For example in 2018, after a self-driving car caused an accident and killed a pedestrian, the University of Michigan launched research to determine the real causative agent of the accident and offer a solution to such defect in the future models (Siddiqui and Laris, 2018). Besides, the same university has put in place its own autonomous vehicle testing facility as a way of enhancing the development of the technology.
Firms are also the other key stakeholders in the adoption of the self-driving car technology. Currently, many firms are in the process of testing the self-driving cars with the aim of ensuring they are safe to people. For instance, Google Inc, Ford, Tesla, and Uber among others are committed to finalize on the technology and avail their vehicles to the market. In this regard, such firms are facilitating the adoption of the self-driving vehicles.
Winners and Losers of the Technology
Each type of technological advancement is characterized by both pros and cons. In that regard, some parties emerge as winners as a result of the technology while others become losers. To begin with, primary industries in the US such as agricultural and extractive are among the main winners (Lockley, n.d.). With a boom of autonomous vehicles, the efficiency of operations in various industries is going to improve, as most of the work is automatable. The price of industry inputs is going to reduce due to the reduced costs of production and manufacturing. Equally, the adoption of the technology is likely to expand customer industries. The reduction of input costs will also reduce the prices of products, which will, in turn, raise the demand. Therefore, most agricultural and extractive industries will be making huge returns.
Notably, Taxis/Uber will also be winning big as a result of self-driving cars. It is indisputable that consumers will not own most of the self-driving vehicles. With the adoption of the autonomous vehicles, the price of taxis is going to fall, thereby making it a cheaper option for most people in America. Therefore, people will not consider the choice of buying their own cars. In this regard, the Taxis/Uber business is going to expand and attain better returns.
Moreover, the logistics industry is among the few sectors that are expected to reap heavily from the adoption of the technology. The diffusion of the technology is going to reduce the logistic costs drastically. Self-driving cars will eliminate expenses for hiring drivers, thereby reducing operational costs for logistics firms, which will, in turn, lower the prices of transporting commodities.
On the other hand, vehicle maintenance business is going to emerge among the losers of the technology. Notably, self-driving cars will negatively impact the vehicle repair industry (Lockley, n.d.). Most companies that are in the process of developing the cars are preferring electric ones as opposed to the traditional internal combustion vehicles. This implies that the vehicles will be associated with minimal defaults as opposed to the current ones that are made of many movable parts. This will see the vehicle maintenance business declining due to lack of customers. Some firms within the industry will actually be forced to exit the market.
Car manufacturers are also going to be negatively impacted by the adoption of self-driving vehicles. Most people will not see the need of owning a vehicle, as taxis will be available and at lower prices. Additionally, self-driving cars are characterized by high safety levels, implying that accidents will be minimal. This means that the car manufacturer sales will gradually reduce with time due to change in consumer preferences.
Influence of Competing Technologies/Standards
The competing technology for self-driving cars is the current human-driven vehicles. The current technology is being widely used in most parts of the US and the world. The human-driven vehicles are currently preferred because they have been tested and authorities are assured of their suitability. However, with the current automation of operations in the world, there is a need for the self-driving vehicles, as they are cost-effective and more effective. Notably, it will not be a simple process for self-driving vehicles to eliminate the human-driven ones in the US. This is because the latter are supported with adequate infrastructure and are dominating the world. Moreover, the fact that the self-driving cars have not yet fully tested in regard to safety issues makes the human-driven vehicles the preferred option.
As far as the technology is going to breakthrough in the US market, it is clear that some individuals may not be willing to abandon the current technology for the incoming. Some people enjoy the act of driving and eliminating the activity will limit them from being happy. Therefore, such individuals will still stick to the human-driven cars. Equally, most of the human-driven cars have been automated in the sense that drivers have little to control. Therefore, people with good vehicles will not be willing to change, as they consider the current one to equally offer the necessary services. However, irrespective of the lock-ins as a result of the human-driven vehicles, the self-driving cars are going to enter the market and take over.
Factors Influencing or Hampering the Diffusion and Adoption of this Technology
As in the case of any other technological advancement, various factors promote the adoption of self-driving cars, while others have become an obstacle. For instance, in the US, government policies are improving the diffusion of the technology. Several states have enacted legislation supporting the introduction of self-driving vehicles within their roads (West, 2018). Besides, the government has been supporting research on the technology to ensure it becomes a reality. Equally, the increased number of firms applying the technology is profoundly facilitating its adoption. Currently, firms such as Ford, Tesla, Google, and Nissan are testing their self-driving vehicles. This will see the firms succeeding in adopting the technology and providing the consumers a large number of alternatives to consider.
Conversely, the liability aspect is derailing the adoption of the technology. Once the cars are involved in an accident, it is not yet clear which party is liable for the defaults (Forrest, 2018). This is becoming an obstacle to the application of the technology in the US. Moreover, societal acceptance is another aspect hampering the use of self-driving vehicles in America (Nees, 2016). Currently, many people are not supporting the technology due to various perceptions. Therefore, car manufacturers are experiencing difficult times in adopting the technology.
Self-driving vehicles are great innovations that should be embraced in the US. The cars are associated with many benefits such as cost effective and low maintenance costs. The main actors behind the technology include the government, insurers, firms, and educational institutions. All the involved stakeholders are working towards making the technology a reality. The introduction of the self-driving vehicles will benefit various entities such as the primary industries, taxis, and logistics industry. However, they will negatively affect the maintenance businesses and car manufacturers. In that regard, despite facing challenges regarding liability and social acceptance, government policies and increased number of firms are enhancing its adoption and will take over soon.
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