During the last weeks several companies developing autonomous vehicles in the U.S. contacted testing in a trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Many experts forecast the pandemic like COVID-19 should speed up the adoption of driverless vehicles for passenger transportation, delivering of goods, and more. The vehicles still need disinfection, and most of the companies do it manually with sanitation teams. In case of outbreak driverless cars might minimize the risk of spreading disease.
Waymo, Uber, GM’s Cruise, Aurora, Argo AI, and Pony.ai are among the companies that have suspended driverless vehicle programs in the hopes of limiting contact between drivers and riders. It’s a direct response to the ongoing health crisis caused by COVID-19, which has sickened over 250,000 and killed more than 10,000 people around the world.
There are many example of using driverless cars in China like delivering groceries, transport medical aids, and even deliver meals to isolation areas and those who are testing positive for the virus. At the Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida the USA, four self-driving NAVYA shuttles are being used to move medical supplies and COVID-19 tests samples from a testing center to the nearest laboratory. To minimize close contact and reduce the spread of the virus, the companies are adopting autonomous vehicles to deliver orders and meet their customers’ needs.
Сar manufacturers have been trying for long time to persuade us of the benefits of driverless cars. But who knew it would take a global pandemic to reveal the real-life benefits of autonomous driving:
- reliable option to prevent person-to-person infection. On-demand services like Instacart has taken actions to minimize human contact, the main reason of the driverless cars usage is that they don’t require a potentially sick person as a driver.
- automated vehicles can operate independently around the clock with no need for human-to-human contact, making them perfect solutions for providing delivery services in virus-hit areas.
- save humans lives by the implications that driverless cars could have on auto insurance rates are mostly positive. With new driverless and connected vehicle technology, risk for traffic-related accidents will largely decrease, given that the new technologies will remove the human element that is the cause for around 90 percent of all traffic accidents.
- less traffic. Automating driving would also bring with it the benefit of reduced traffic. As connected vehicles and driverless vehicles communicate with each other and their surroundings, they are able to identify the optimum route, which helps spread demand for scarce road space.
- another plus is that they don’t require monitoring, while you can still be sure of their efficiency.
- reduced emissions. Study shows that even the use of autonomous taxis could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 87 to 94% per mile by the year 2030.
The potential benefits of driverless cars are attractive and widespread, and the future for the industry is bright. And, if we let them, they could be the biggest thing to happen to transportation since Henry Ford’s assembly line.
Even though there are no autonomous vehicles filling out the streets in your district in a couple of weeks, their benefits in global epidemics and common life are obvious. To adapt to the potential uncertainties of a global marketplace, both businesses and government agencies need to prepare for unforeseen circumstances like the Coronavirus where human-to-human contact is either impossible or risky. Any endeavours made in developing driverless technology today will gain benefits later in the form of smooth operations and extenuating risks.
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