Once a far-off dream and the stuff of science fiction, autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be part of the roadscape sooner than we think (Driverless vehicle rides in three new towns from 2022; Nov 23). The Government is to be commended for this.
The main concern is safety, particularly with regard to the speed of the vehicles. Conditions on roads are subject to more variables, and the commuting public will need time to adjust.
As a first step, people should appreciate the benefits of AVs.
For instance, AVs promise relief to drivers sick of long commutes and bumper-to-bumper traffic. Workers may not mind living farther from the office, as they can now sleep in the car.
Fatigue, age or intoxication will no longer pose barriers to operating a car. We can also make better use of our time from the energy saved from driving.
The positive impact on the environment will also be dramatic. AVs can travel closer together, allowing them to take advantage of aerodynamics, thus saving fuel.
And because AVs are expected to be safer, safety equipment like anti-lock brakes and airbags can be eliminated, decreasing the weight and fuel consumption.
Hopefully, with the eventual acceptance of AVs, we can achieve the goal of a car-lite society as consumers move away from car ownership and towards ride sharing.
Wong Horng Ginn