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Self-driving cars are changing the way that people commute in countries across the globe, and now, this technology is making its way to South Africa. In October of this year, residents can expect to see the country’s first public autonomous vehicle trials. This is the first time that the Mobility Centre for Africa (MCA) has received government permission for such trials. There are currently two car models under consideration – The Z10 by EasyMile or the ARMA vehicle by Navya, both companies headquartered in France. Despite setbacks such as concerns over ethical issues and cost factors, South Africans may get to see self-driving cars hit the roads within the next couple of years thanks to the benefits that autonomous vehicles have to offer.
As self-driving cars are phased into the transit system, they’re expected to make the roadways safer. Around ninety percent of car accidents are caused by human error, whether it’s because a driver is tired, distracted, or impaired. Self-driving cars don’t suffer from any of these problems, and better yet, their sensors can react to stimuli much faster than a human. Autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives every year by reducing the risk of accidents, not to mention the money it would save South African families when it comes to insurance premiums.
Every day, workers across South Africa have to face a long and often cluttered commute to work. Traffic can drain valuable time away from the workday, making workers later, less productive, and more irritable. Self-driving cars can help to eliminate some of the traffic on the road through cab and ridesharing programs, meaning that many employees will save time on their commute each day and can even enjoy their journey taking in the great sights of South Africa along the way. Less traffic on the road also means a reduced risk of being involved in an accident.
A Greener Nation
Autonomous cars offer an alternate form of public transit that doesn’t require expensive new infrastructure to be put in place. Passengers can reduce their carbon footprint by getting involved in ridesharing and carpooling programs. Self-driving taxi services may even eliminate the need to own a personal vehicle altogether, helping to reduce carbon emissions and thus protect the environment.
The Risks of Autonomous Vehicles
While self-driving cars offer plenty of benefits for South African drivers, autonomous vehicles don’t come without their risks. Perhaps the biggest threat to the safety of passengers in a self-driving car comes from malware and online hackers. Since these cars are hooked up to the Internet, there is a possibility of cybercriminals remotely accessing software. There is also a small risk of spontaneous technical failure, though companies are working hard to address the issue and make their cars as safe as possible.
Self-driving cars have a lot to offer society, from safer and less cluttered roadways to a cleaner environment. Like all new technologies, though, self-driving cars aren’t perfect. As autonomous vehicles gain popularity in South Africa, drivers can expect to keep seeing improvements in both form and function.
Credit: Sally Writes