I am weirdly passionate about self driving cars. I think they’re an inevitable part of the future, that will revolutionise the transport industry. With advancements in research and technology, this is almost an indisputable fact at this point. They will change the way everyone gets around, making travel safer and more convenient. What I’m really interested in though, is the way self driving cars will have an effect on us socially and culturally.

Imagine what you do in cars. Imagine what you don’t do in cars. Now imagine if all of that was to change. The integration of self driving cars will have a profound effect on what we do in cars, and the way we think about them.

It is projected by some, that if self driving cars are to become the norm, no one would own their own car. Cars could potentially run similar to an almost infinite number of taxis. With no one driving these taxis, the cost of getting from point a to point b would be so much cheaper than it currently is. This could completely change the lives of car enthusiasts, with car ownership and maintenance becoming just an expensive hobby.

Self driving cars also give independence and mobility to people that may not have it now. Disabled and elderly people who can not drive themselves, would be given the freedom that car transport entails, without the risks of something like public transport. This opens up a whole range of possibilities that are currently inaccessible to certain groups, such as access to employment and medical care. Also, we all know the risks of driving whilst drunk but self driving cars can eliminate that risk by taking the control of the car out of the hands of the drunk passengers.

Another interesting change could be to conversation in cars. We’ve all heard the dangers of talking on the phone while driving but some studies even say having conversation with a passenger in car may be just as distracting. In a self driving car you could have whatever conversations you want because you would no longer be required to focus on driving. In fact, you could do whatever you want. No longer would time be wasted in commute. This could potentially be reflect of the design of the car, such as in the case of the mercedes prototype with seat that swivel to face each other.

Overall, I think self driving cars will have a huge effect on society, in ways we probably can’t even begin to imagine. Self driving cars will even affect us in ways that aren’t directly related to driving. For example, what will be the most common form of ID if no one has a driver’s license in the future? What will the police do with the resources currently used to police our road? There are so many ways, big and small, that self driving cars will change our lives.

In order to further investigate the social and cultural effects of self driving cars, over the next month, I will be researching and writing an essay.

Currently most of the academic research surrounding self driving cars has been surrounding the ethical and economic consequences of this new technology being integrated. However, some academic articles I have found relevant to my research are ‘Self-driving cars will change cities’ by Roman Zakharenko and ‘The Social Life of Autonomous Cars’ by Barry Brown.

Timeline

Week 10 – Continue research more in depth

Week 11 – Plan out essay

Week 12 – Write first draft

Week 13 – Finalise Essay


References

Brown, B. (2017) ‘The Social Life of Autonomous Cars’, Computer (00189162), 50(2), pp. 92–96. doi: 10.1109/MC.2017.59.

Chen, C. (2015) ‘What is the future of driverless cars?’, Christian Science Monitor, 15 November. Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2015/1115/What-is-the-future-of-driverless-cars (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Kelion, L. (2015) ‘Could driverless cars own themselves?’, BBC News, 16 February. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30998361 (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Manna, J. (2016) How autonomous vehicles can help reduce drunk driving, Launch Forth. Available at: https://launchforth.io/blog/post/how-autonomous-vehicles-can-help-reduce-drunk-driving/1998/ (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Motavalli, J. (2015) ‘Automakers Rethink Seats for Self-Driving Cars’, The New York Times, 15 January. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/automobiles/automakers-rethink-seats-for-self-driving-cars.html (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Munger, D. Driving skills deteriorate as conversation gets more difficult, Cognitive Daily. Available at: http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2005/12/21/driving-skills-deteriorate-as/ (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Nesnow, G. (2016) ‘50 mind-blowing implications of driverless cars’, Startup Grind, 12 September. Available at: https://medium.com/startup-grind/mind-blowing-driverless-future-fcc5197d509 (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Polonetsky, J. (2016) ‘Self-Driving Cars: Transforming Mobility For The Elderly And People With Disabilities’, Huffington Post, 24 October. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jules-polonetsky/selfdriving-cars-transfor_b_12545726.html (Accessed: 2 May 2017).

Zakharenko, R. (2016) ‘Self-driving cars will change cities’, Regional Science and Urban Economics, 61, pp. 26–37. doi: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2016.09.003.

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