Will Collisions Go Away With Self-Driving Cars?
Self Driving Cars are the Future… Are They Safe?
As futuristic as the concept seemed several years ago, there’s no stopping it now: self-driving cars are coming. The question is do we really need self-driving cars? If we didn’t have a history of paying more attention to our phones than our driving, or openly disobeying traffic laws, or being prone to road rage, or not being mindful about the condition of our car, maybe not. But the record number of crashes simply shows otherwise. And so just like many other tasks, the need to automate has extended to driving.
Here at Big Sky Collision Center, we are all about making sure you are safe. Modern vehicles are incredibly safe, but that also means they are damaged in a collision. We would love for nothing more than to be out of the collision repair business (because there are no more car wrecks!) and have to merge into the restoration business.
What is a self-driving car?
A fully autonomous self-driving car is, as one would probably imagine, a car that can drive itself without the need for a human driver. With the right number of cameras, processors and sensors in all the right places, a driverless car certainly seems possible. Right now, several features leading to that goal are already in place and being developed further. We now have cars with active braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, steering assist and parking assist systems.
What are the hurdles that lie ahead?
The technology to bring you safely to your destination with minimal interaction on your part is certainly appealing. But one of the biggest hurdles (for the time being at least) is the cost. How much will it cost to incorporate self-driving technology into vehicles? Likewise, how many people are actually going to be able to afford it? If there isn’t enough market penetration, the outcome of safer roads isn’t going to be noticed.
There’s also the matter of hacking and possible control interference from malicious individuals who might use their computer systems expertise to turn what’s supposed to be a safer driving experience into a criminal incident and a hostile takeover.
And, it still seems unlikely that any car manufacturer would be willing to accept full responsibility for having cars on the road without drivers. Just imagine what will happen if a fully autonomous self-driving car collides and wrecks a regular human-driven car. Who will be responsible for the damages? It will most likely be the car manufacturer because the accident will probably be due to software error or some other malfunction that cannot be attributed to anything else except the car’s computer system.
Self-driving cars = safer roads. Will this make everyone happy?
Self-driving cars are supposed to make driving safer for everyone through features that can help cut down the number of accidents and crashes resulting in fewer injuries and fewer fatalities. Who wouldn’t want that? While everyone will probably agree that fewer accidents are a good thing, there are also some who could spin this prospect in a negative light.
The effect of automatic braking is already being felt by the insurance industry. Apparently, crash-related injury claims have dropped significantly for vehicles equipped with an automatic braking system. Fewer accidents mean fewer claims and ideally lower premiums.
Aside from insurance companies, self-driving cars are also expected to have a major impact on companies selling auto body parts. As the number of accidents decreases, and as those accidents also become less severe, the need for replacement auto parts will expectedly be reduced too.
And what about collision repair shops? With smarter cars on the road, it’s logical to assume that crash incidents will be reduced to a minimum, not totally eliminated because we have yet to see any computer system that runs perfectly all the time. But we can probably expect the reduction to be significant enough that it will have collision repair shop owners reasonably worried that their business will have nowhere to go but down. As the best auto body shop in Billings, however, we aren’t worried about that prospect. We will adapt!
Will Collisions Go Away With Self-Driving Cars?
Sometime in the future, we will likely live in a world where there are no car accidents. Self driving vehicles will adapt, adjust, and compensate so that collisions are eliminated. The real question, however, is when will collisions go away? It would be safe to argue that anyone alive today will not see a world without car accidents. But who knows where the technology will be in the next 20 years. Or the next 50 years. Or the next 250 years. After all, cars are only 100 years old (give or take); and look how far the technology has progressed since their inception.
In the meantime, bring all your collision repair needs to Big Sky Collision Center. If you have been in a wreck, we will restore your vehicle to its full safety specs! Call 406-259-6328 to schedule a time.