Since the end of the Second World War, there have been significant revolutions in technology, which has changed the way people function and perceive their environment. In this regard, technology has become the centre of human life and as such, it is almost impossible for people to live comfortably without it. One of the areas that are currently receiving significant attention because of the impact of technology is the transport sector. This paper evaluates how self-driving and autonomous cars will transform commuting in society. To begin with, Tettamanti, Varga and Szalay (2016) define autonomous cars as cars that have the capability to evaluate their environment using advanced sensors and as such, control their movement without the help of a human driver. Arguably, the proponents of autonomous cars reiterate that in future, people will not need to own cars since the existence of self-driving cars will provide enhanced pick-up services. Therefore, it will be uneconomical and inefficient for one to purchase his or her car. Due to reduce number of cars on the road, traffic jams will reduce significant. Furthermore, governments across the globe will reduce their investment in development projects such as carparks since fewer cars will require such facilities. Importantly, despite the transformation that autonomous or self-driving cars are likely to bring in commuting, there is a need to critically evaluate different impacts of autonomous cars and as such, establish how these cars will transform the transportation sector. Speaking from this point of view, this paper examines environment sustainability of autonomous cars. Similarly, the paper will discuss the impact of autonomous cars from an ethical perspective.
Specific impact of autonomous cars 自动驾驶汽车的具体影响
To begin with, one of the greatest impacts of autonomous cars is on environmental sustainability. In line with this, the wide adoption of autonomous cars in society will be accompanied by a significant reduction in pollution particularly in urban areas, thus improving environmental sustainability. Research and studies reveal that the transportation sector across the globe is a major contributor of air pollution apart from industries that rely on fossil fuel such as coal and oil to function. In their analysis on the impact of the transport sector on air pollution, Colvile, Hutchinson, Mindell and Warren (2001) observe that this sector, particularly the road transport, is a major contributor of gaseous emissions in the environment, thus contributing significantly to poor air quality in urban areas, as well as the depletion of the ozone layer. To account for this massive pollution particularly in road transport, Davis, Caldeira and Matthews (2010) observe that more than 90 percent vehicles on the road today rely on fossil fuels, which have a significantly higher negative impact on the environment as compared to non-fossil fuels. In addition, these researchers observe that whereas regions such as Europe have witnessed a decline in demand for vehicles over the past couple of years, regions such as China and Africa have witnessed an increase in demand for vehicles, thus increasing the level of air pollution due to road transport in these areas. Whereas this is the case, the introduction and adoption of autonomous cars in different parts of the globe will contribute to a decline in gaseous emissions because of a number of factors. First, due to the efficiency of autonomous cars in picking and dropping passengers, there will be a reduction in the demand for cars for private use, particularly in urban areas (Fagnant & Kockelman, 2015). As a result of this, the number of cars on the road will decline by a significant margin, leading to a decline in gaseous emissions in these areas and as such, an improved environmental sustainability. Secondly, these cars will rely on different technologies such as optimisation of routes thus reducing the amount of travelling time and as such, the amount of time of using a particular vehicle, as well as technologies such as enhanced control of the car thus reducing unnecessary burning of fuel (Bagloee, Tavana, Asadi & Oliver, 2016). Therefore, with improved efficiency control of the car, there would a significant reduction in gaseous emission, thus helping lower or reverse the level of pollution in the environment. This will enhance sustainability particularly in urban areas.