Self Driving Cars They were stories of science fiction, now reality. There are many ways these cars will impact society.


  • Convenient: Something that is of little difficulty.
  • Autonomous: Self control, or the ability to do something without help/influence.
  • Unprecedented: Something of significance that has never taken place before.
  • Regulated: To control something by placing rules/guidelines.
  • Infrastructure: Physical and organized structure, holds utilities, and allows for ease of mobility. Ex: Roads, bridges, etc.
  • Disability: Mental or physical condition that prevents mobility, sense, or other functions.

How are automated cars an improvement from standard cars?

Autonomous cars can be used to transport disabled people to their place of work. For many people their disability inhibits their ability to drive and these cars would be of great convenience. According to the article “Self-Driving Cars Could Be A Boon For Americans With Disabilities” The Ruderman Family Foundation finds that by removing mobility obstacles, over 2 millions Americans with disabilities can be transported to their work. Since automated cars will remove the need for there to be an able bodied driver, people who can’t drive can simply ride in the passenger seat and be dropped off at their destination. These cars could also save thousands of lives. According to an article from Palm Beach Post “[The] Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, said 94% of crashes in the U.S. are caused by human error or choice.” While up to 94% of crashes could potentially be prevented, this would ultimately remove 1 of the top 3 killers of teens in America. While these cars can help save lives and make lives easier for the disabled, these cars make significantly fewer mistakes than humans do.

How well can self driving cars improve travel time?

An automated car should drive more efficient than a normal driver, due to algorithms and practically instant execution of thought. In fact, “On major roads where traditional vehicles outnumbered automated vehicles, the benefits of automated vehicles are relatively small. These benefits increase, though, as the number of driverless cars go up – so with 100 per cent autonomous vehicles, journey times could be reduced by more than 11 per cent and delays cut by more than 40 per cent.” (Daniel Kemp) These improvements in travel time are extraordinary, however we will need almost every car on the road to be Automated. Hesham Rhakha, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech states, in the article “Self-Driving Cars Could Ease Our Commutes, But That’ll Take A While” states, “Part of the fundamental challenge of traffic [is that] it’s extremely easy for human drivers to create traffic. One little touching of the brake can pull the whole system down," If there are human drivers on the road even with nearly half of the drivers being automated, there will still be unexpected stops. The fewer humans on the road, the more efficient the self driving cars will be. While it is established that these automated cars can drive more efficiently than humans the programming and algorithms that go into these products are very complicated.

How can self driving cars detect things around them?

There are multiple mechanisms in an automated car that detect what’s around it. According to Chris Urmson, a lead designer from Google, “There are laser cameras that shoot out hundreds of lasers that map out objects in the vicinity, and can map out what certain objects look like. With these lasers, the objects it maps out can be added to a database, so the cars will be able to identify something very fast, and predict what it may do.” The car uses lasers more than it does actually video footage, as lasers in real life are more precise, and allow the car to receive better quality information. In the distant future, city planners could help increase efficiency of automated car detection. Grant Courville, the senior director of QNX software products, says “However, there are even more advantages if infrastructure, like streetlights, are able to communicate with vehicles as well.” If cars could communicate to infrastructure, the computer could be told ahead of time when a light will turn red/green, giving it time to accelerate/decelerate. While the self driving cars can efficiently detect things, the equipment to make it possible is very expensive.

How affordable will these automated cars be?

The technology that allows for cars to drive on their own has progressed fast the past few years; however, that doesn’t make it cheap. In fact, “IHS Automotive forecasts that the price for the self-driving technology will add between $7,000 and $10,000 to a car’s sticker price in 2025.” (Chuck Tannert) Cars are already pretty expensive, and this will only be added to the base price of any model. Different companies are beginning to partner with each other, sharing their innovations. In fact Bryan Salesky, the CEO of Argo AI, has stated “We believe this partnership [Between Ford] will enable self-driving cars to be commercialized and deployed at scale to extend affordable mobility to all.” Partnerships between companies will help spread ideas and innovations, making technology more efficient and cheaper. As these cars will be made cheaper over time, they will also transform the economy like we have never seen.

How will self driving cars affect the economy?

Automated cars will impact the economy in both positive and negative ways. The Youtube video “How Driverless Cars Will Change Cities” states that these cars will completely redefine millions of jobs around the country, either eliminating them, or transforming its function. Companies such as Uber taxi, are implementing automated taxi cars. And in the future, semi trucks could be automated too. The automated cars will eliminate the need for there to be a driver present, and many companies could lay off most of their workers to save money, for a more efficient and reliable auto car. Either workers will be laid off, or moved to different positions. While in the long run, these cars could save us billions in budgeting. An article called “Revolution Road” from the publisher Inlander states that “Bryan Mistele, CEO of a connected-car company in Kirkland, [fought] against a 54 billion dollar transit expansion that, he argued, would be made obsolete by automated vehicles.” Expensive infrastructure expansion could be cut down in price thanks to the efficiency of automated vehicles and their improved travel times. This could save taxpayers billions of dollars, or have the money spent somewhere else where it is needed.

Works Cited (MLA Citations)

Works Cited

Adam Shepard. “Driverless cars: Google patents car that 'prevents harm' in accidents”., 17 Feb. 2017, Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Chuck Tannert. “Will You Ever Be Able To Afford A Self-Driving Car?”., 31 Jan. 2014, Accessed 11 Feb. 2017.

Daniel Kemp. “Driverless Cars: Short-Term Pain For Long-Term Gain”., 13 Jan. 2017, Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

Dan Nailen. “Revolution Road”. 9 Feb. 2017, Accessed 20 Feb. 2017

John Beltz Snyder. “Self-driving cars could be a boon for Americans with disabilities”., 17 Jan. 2017, Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

Kristina Webb. “Feds issue rules on automated cars; Federal transportation boss says self-driving cars can save lives.: Feds issue rules on automated cars; Uber launches pilot program”. Palm Beach Post, 21 Sep. 2016, Accessed 25 Jan. 2017.

Kanata Kourier. “QNX aims to create the OS of automated cars”., 30 March. 2016, Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.

TED. “How A Driverless Car Sees The Road”., 26 June. 2015, Accessed 11 Feb. 2017.

The National. “How Driverless Cars Will Change Cities”., 6 Jan. 2016, Accessed 10 Feb. 2017.

Yuki Noguchi. “Self-Driving Cars Could Ease Our Commutes, But That’ll Take A While”. 10 Fed. 2017, Accessed 20 Fed. 2017.

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