While flying cars and air taxis are still a couple years in development, the interest for electric and robotic cars continue to grow as consumers aim to have vehicles as smart as the phones in their pockets. Keyless entry, Back-up cameras and Wi-Fi hotspots seem mandatory when it comes to the latest vehicles on the market but Tesla and Nissan are leading the pack in innovation with their semi-autonomous driving capabilities. As more electric cars gain similar features like Nissan’s e-Pedal and Tesla’s autopilot, the average consumer will be able to recline their driver seats all the way back and let their cars take complete control to get them to their destination. But are we ready for electric cars with no brakes or steering wheels? According to Reuters, “The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has delayed action for 15 months on General Motors Co’s request to deploy a limited number of vehicles on U.S. roads without steering wheels or other human controls such as a brake pedal.”
The NHTSA is giving the general public 60 days to offer their opinions on the potential of cars without brakes, steering wheels and even drivers on the road in the near future. With companies like Apple, Uber, WayMo and Nuro beginning to test their delivery services with autonomous vehicles, the push for these driverless vehicles on the road is inevitable. If GM’s request is approved these autopilot vehicles could be on a road near you as soon as the the end of this year. Car culture has already experienced a dramatic shift with the surge of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft and new rideshare companies are continuing to pop up more frequently, especially in big cities. Innovation is needed for any industry to improve but safety is essential in the automotive industry. A fatal Uber crash in 2018 involving a self-driving vehicle and safety driver shows that everyone might not be ready for the power of having a self-driving vehicle on the road and those autonomous vehicle related incidents will definitely be highlighted when it comes to General Motors and other manufacturers looking to get their futuristic vehicles out to the public.
Whether GM introduces it’s autonomous Bolt EV at the end of this year or in the beginning of 2022, drivers need to remain as vigilant. The expansion of affordable vehicles with autopilot features opens up the possibility of more distracted drivers who can utilize the time not spent holding a steering wheel on their phones watching Hulu like the safety driver that got into a fatal accident last year. Even though we’re slowing inching closer to a life similar to The Jetsons, we can’t lose sight on how precious human life is and how fast it can be taken away with careless driving. When you push to start your car in the morning be thankful of the advancements in technology and don’t become another statistic of a distracted driver taking lives as they go.
According to The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “there were 37,461 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, an increase from 35,485 in 2015.”
Article By: Marcel “The Messenger” Jeremiah