Industry

Autonomous Vehicles in Auto Transport: A Safety Hazard?

by Ben Price

Autonomous Vehicles in Auto Transport: A Safety Hazard?

Self-driving vehicles have risen in popularity significantly over the past few years, going from nothing more than a far-off concept to reality in just a short period of time. Autonomous cars really started to take off once Tesla began including them as an option back in 2014, with various updates throughout the years that have made them significantly improved and safer for passengers, and have even been thought of to lead the auto transport industry into the future.

However, not everyone believes that they are safe to drive, let alone be trusted to transport large loads. Some public figures have spoken out against autonomous car technology, and there is even some proof that shows that they can make mistakes – let’s discuss autonomous vehicles’ potential shortcomings, and how they may affect the auto transport industry, and more.

An Entire Campaign Platform

Dan O’Dowd, a U.S. Senate candidate, is currently running as a single-issue candidate. The single issue? That Tesla vehicles are unsafe, due to cybersecurity risks. 

O’Dowd is a businessman-turned-politican, becoming a billionaire after founding Green Hills software in 1992. “My slogan is making computers safer for humanity,” O’Dowd shared in an interview with CBS News. “I view this as the biggest issue of our times, even bigger than nuclear weapons.” While O’Dowd’s statement is debatable, it stands to reason that we should be hesitant when it comes to self-driving cars, as there certainly have been issues with them in the past.

Human Error is a Larger Concern

Other sources argue the exact opposite as O’Dowd. According to Axios, self-driving cars could get more dangerous before they get safer, but not because of flaws in the technology: because of human error, laziness, or just a lack of understanding of the technology’s capabilities.

Many Tesla drivers overestimate what self-driving cars are capable of currently, with accidents resulting from inattentive drivers. The truth is that autonomous cars aren’t fully self-driving yet, and they still require drivers to act as safety monitors and be aware of their surroundings just as they normally would. Failing to do so could result in fatal accidents, with the technology potentially causing more harm than good.

Some Tesla drivers have partaken in unsafe driving practices such as playing games, watching TV, eating, or even sitting in the backseat while their vehicle is in autopilot mode, but this is all unadvisable. Treating autopilot as an invisible chauffeur is extremely dangerous, and doing so is a recipe for disaster.

Autonomous Auto Transport Vehicles Are Still Imperfect

One previously hotly debated topic, autonomous trucks, brought up the question of whether or not the new technology would essentially eliminate the need for truck drivers in the auto transport industry. An advancement like this would severely hurt the industry, and cause unemployment to skyrocket. But it seems that, due to the imperfections with autonomous vehicles, this wouldn’t be the cause; at least not yet.

Tesla’s Semi, is an all-electric auto transport vehicle that is advertised as featuring an autopilot mode, but even on Tesla’s website it specifically states that it requires drivers to “remain alert and active… and must be prepared to take action at any time.” 

For nearly a decade now, autopilot has been a mainstay feature in Tesla’s vehicles, with the feature constantly getting improved. With that said, it is likely still a long way away from vehicles being fulling self-driving without requiring some attention of a driver. As Axios puts it, self-driving technology creates a paradox: the more reliable the tech becomes, the less prepared drivers will be for when it fails.

So for the foreseeable future, those in the driver’s seat will need to remain attentive, even while being self-driven. As Tesla itself shares, autonomous vehicles aren’t perfect, and can’t truly drive themselves. Because of this, the auto transport industry and the auto industry as a whole will still require drivers just as much as they always have – they’ll just want to stay attentive, alert, and ready for anything.

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Published on August 11, 2022

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