Twin Cities Edition

Autonomous Autos

Driverless Cars Promise Safety and Savings


Hyundai demonstrated its Ioniq autonomous, or driverless, hybrid car concept at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, demonstrating that such vehicles—equipped with sophisticated sensors, GPS and computers—could be for sale within five to seven years.

Safety is paramount. Estimates for the U.S., based on a 2013 Eco Center for Transportation study, projected that if 90 percent of vehicles were autonomous, the number of driving-related deaths would plummet from an annual 32,400 to approximately 11,300.

“Drivers are excited that driverless cars will offer 90 percent fewer U.S. traffic accidents, 40 percent lower insurance costs, the end of drunk driving accidents and newfound freedom for seniors and people with disabilities,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. Its 2016 report Self-Driving Vehicles: Consumer Sentiments found that nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed like the proffered benefits.

In Driverless, authors Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman highlight significant ecological benefits, including McKinsey research findings that driverless cars will yield up to 20 percent fuel savings, and a corresponding reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Their smoother driving also extends a vehicle’s life.

Ford intends to deliver a fully autonomous vehicle for ride sharing in 2021, according to Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. Companies such as Uber and Lyft already are testing driverless vehicles in pilot cities.

This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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