Why self-driving cars may not be as scary as you think
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With increasing research and development into autonomous technology, driverless cars will likely be a part of our lives soon, but that may not be as scary as it may seem.

Category: Car Buying Advice

From the iconic Batmobile to the Audi RSQ in I, Robot, there are plenty of depictions of super-futuristic, intelligent, self-driving cars ferrying their human passengers around in popular culture. Soon, self-driving cars will become a reality, with carmakers rolling out new models making use of new technologies - a move that has some people fearing that our streets (and our world) will soon be run by robots.

In fact, this fear of technology is a story as old as modernity itself. When steam trains were first introduced, naysayers worried that travelling at 48km/h would damage the human body; when cars became widespread, a minority of horrified people wanted to put a stop to these menacing machines. Today, that same fear has been transposed to autonomous vehicles.

But, as you'll see, self-driving cars, or piloted driving cars, are nothing to fear.

Self-driving cars will help to reduce human error on the roads

1. Self-driving cars will make driving environments safer

Even in orderly Singapore, road safety is an issue. This recent article by The Straits Times highlights a worrying increase in the number of traffic accidents over the past year. Many of these were most likely caused by some sort of human error - errors in judgment, lapses in concentration - or, worse, irresponsible behavior like texting behind the wheel or driving while inebriated. (Let's face it: people are not always safe drivers.) One key benefit of piloted driving technology is that it eliminates risks introduced by human error or behaviour, making driving safer for drivers and other road users.

Piloted driving can handle the tedious work of driving, allowing you to relax on your daily commutes

2. It can alleviate the stress of driving in your daily life

Sure, it may be preferable to the MRT crush, but commuting daily by car isn't always a bed of roses. When you're stuck in traffic jams, driving to or from work can be much more of a chore than a joy. Adding to that is a myriad of other stress factors, such as navigating around construction sites, dealing with inconsiderate road users, even the fact that you need to stay alert after a long, gruelling day. These daily stressors can be a thing of the past with the advent of piloted driving, which handle the hard work of driving and navigating around obstacles and other vehicles, leaving drivers free to relax and just enjoy the ride.
3. You've probably travelled in an auto-piloted vehicle before

If you've flown on an airplane recently, you've probably already experienced the benefits of autopilot, another hands-free piloting system that is found in virtually all commercial aircraft today. Having been around for over 100 years, this technology uses computer software to improve the safety, accuracy, efficiency and control of the aircraft. The benefits of autopilot are so widely recognised that it is mandatory to install it in aircraft exceeding a certain size, according to international aviation regulations.

Autopilot is an indispensable tool that most of us have grown used to and comfortable with. It's not much of a conceptual leap to scale the technology down and implement it in our personal vehicles.

A large proportion of each flight is controlled by an autopilot system

4. Today's cars already feature some basic functions of self-driving technology

We're not talking about prototypes of super-futuristic models, but about cars that are already on the market. Consider the many automated features drivers now can't live without, such as GPS, cruise control and parking assist systems - technologies that seamlessly aid drivers in their tasks.

Many new models now come with more advanced aids. Active lane assist technology, for example, can 'know' when a vehicle is drifting out of its lane and either warn the driver or correct the vehicle's course. Also on the rise are blindspot monitoring systems, which makes use of rear sensors, as well as more advanced parking assist systems, which incorporate reversing cameras and helpful display elements that make it a breeze to perform (the dreaded) parallel parking.

5. It won't take the pleasure out of driving

If you're the sort who finds driving enjoyable, piloted driving technology is not going to take away your fun. The function is available as an option, so that drivers always have a choice to take over the steering wheel as and when they like. Ultimately, it's about giving drivers more options and more control - not less. And chances are you'll get more fun out of driving once you take the tedious, stressful mental and physical work out of it.

With car manufacturers already developing piloted driving technologies and introducing them to the market, it looks like we can soon say goodbye to the worst parts of driving and hello to a new world of exciting possibilities.

This article was part of a sponsored series first published by SPH Content Studio.

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