Self-driving cars were once right up there with flying vehicles soaring above the city, except they’ve become something of a reality that we can see, touch, and experience for ourselves – if, of course, you happen to know one of their prototype developers. Though you may never see a self-driving car, and definitely won’t be seeing them for a while, there are plenty of self-driving features that are found in new vehicles today that some people love, and some people hate. When renting a car, do you opt for these self-driving features? Or do you not? There are many pros and cons of self-driving cars to consider, which is what we’ve outlined in this guide.
The Pros of Self Driving Cars
Self-driving cars are categorized into different “levels” which are based on the quality and quantity of autonomous features. The self-driving cars that exist on the road today generally fall into levels 1 or 2, meaning that a driver’s presence and attention will always be required to control the vehicle or monitor the vehicle’s driving and correct if necessary. Level 3+ vehicles are considered “hands-off” and only require a driver for specific tasks. Level 3 vehicles are currently in development and could be on the road as early as 2021. Levels 4 and 5 would feature an even greater degree of autonomy, allowing the driver to sleep if necessary. The general public currently has access to level 1 and 2 features such as:
- Automatic lane-centering
- Adaptive cruise control
- Self-parking capabilities
- Automatic forward-collision breaking
- Sign recognition
- Steering assist
Some vehicles, like Tesla, may offer a full autopilot feature where the car will, in many ways, drive itself. You will still need to be in the vehicle and have your hands on the wheel, however, as it is not entirely adaptive. Having the more common features is certainly a boost to any driver, particularly if you are driving long distances. The benefits of self-driving cars include:
- Staying safe when driving long distances on highways;
- helping to reduce collisions;
- helping to always follow the rules of the road (no more speed traps!);
- and helping you stay in your lane.
Of course, if we’re talking about fully autonomous self-driving cars of the future, the pros would be:
- There is no need to drive;
- there is no need to own a vehicle, as you could theoretically subscribe to a scheduled taxi service;
- and there is no need to spend time parking, as your vehicle could drop you off and park on its own.
The Cons of Self Driving Cars
The cons of self-driving cars do exist. If you own a vehicle with these features, you can expect to pay a premium for the opportunity, and there is a huge risk of the systems being damaged or breaking down over time. A small car accident could damage your vehicle’s computer system, and then you’d have to have your entire vehicle written off, and at the caliber and cost, you will still have to pay out of pocket to replace your car with a new one. Additionally, not everyone is eager to put their safety in the hands of an automated vehicle. There is much skepticism surrounding the reliability of artificial intelligence systems under unusual conditions. You need to think long and hard as to whether you feel comfortable letting your car drive itself. Those living in busy cities also need to consider the amount of attention they will need to give the vehicle in stop-and-go traffic; if the autonomous features cannot be appreciated by the driver, then there is less incentive to pay premium for those features.
So, in short, the cons of self-driving cars include:
- The potential cost of repairs;
- the cost of the vehicle itself;
- and a potential inability to fully benefit from autonomous features.
Of course, until they are on the market and these systems are in place, all these cons are purely speculation.
The Reality of Self Driving Cars
A truly self-driving car is still years or even decades away, but the technology is indeed being put to good use right now. One thing is for certain, though: we are still on the journey to a level 4 or 5 self-driving vehicle, and as these features are developed they will surely be implemented into more mainstream and accessible makes and models.