Self-driving car technology has been a dominant point of discussion with regard to the future of transportation in the world. The imagination of a driver-less automobile in the streets, and buses available for efficient transport devoid of human error becomes inevitable. The most highlighted points touch on both the safety, and the intelligence of the new technology, but rarely on accessibility.
In truth, to the old and the disabled, transportation can be a real challenge as it offers near zero independence, and generally lowers the quality of life. The inability to drive or the fear of the same is limiting, as access to food and medication becomes a nightmare. That results in social isolation, and eventually, mental health effects. With the US government buying cars for citizens, and with the self-driving technology highly mooted, we could see changes in the near future.
But if indeed the dream of self-driving cars becomes a reality, what could be the immediate benefits to the general population?
Greater sense of independence and ultimate freedom
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The most exciting aspect of this technology is that it is bound to bring a greater sense of freedom and independence to the masses. Where the old and the disabled have had to rely on family members and caregivers to access some basic facilities, the autonomous car technology will solve that once and for all.
The ability of the self-operating automobiles to accelerate, brake, turn, and perform basically all other functions without human direction makes them ideal for individuals who are not able to operate a car.
However, the main challenge, and probably the only foreseeable one, lies in accessibility, where accessibility in this scenario means a number of things, including;
- Providing self-driving services to the elderly and disabled persons who may be operating on limited budgets.
- Providing for passengers who are confined to using mobility aids to get around, or persons who travel with medical devices.
- Taking the autonomous technology to persons in rural locales that may be poorly served in terms of infrastructural development.
The plight of the disabled and the elderly needs redress
The population of the disabled and the aging is growing rapidly, with the numbers expected to grow significantly in the next few years. With lifestyle-related diseases also on the rise, more people will be in dire need of the above-mentioned services. For the growing population to find any benefits from the autonomous vehicle technology, issues that directly affect them ought to be considered.
The potential in the emerging technology cannot be disputed, but there is a need for proper planning. Research and the input of stakeholders in the industry is paramount in the efforts to make the dreams of millions of people a reality.
The self-driving vehicle technology is a universally acceptable move, and the concerns over the challenges it is likely to face going forward should be utilized as the basis for new developments in the technology that is currently in its infant stages. These issues raised will form a strong basis for research, and there is some widespread optimism that a solution will be found, eventually.