Driverless Cars: Are they the Future for those Living with a Disability?
Transforming Lives: Socially Meaningful Technological Developments Technological developments are transforming peoples’ lives. Today, there are few sectors unaffected by technology, and generally, these technological developments are viewed positively. Although there are fears that children are failing to develop certain such as handwriting, due to the ubiquity of computer use, these fears are often mitigated by the benefits of technology usage: improved access to information, efficiency and the learning of invaluable IT skills. Augmented and virtual reality are examples of technology literally changing the way people perceive the world; similar technologies are being used to help blind people to ‘see’ using digital retinas. This shows the potential within technology to significantly improve the quality of life for those living with a disability. Artificial body-parts, hearing aids and speech dictation aids are all examples of technologies that have seen significant improvements in recent years; disabled people can enjoy more independence and richness of life as a result. Independence is of particularly high value to many disabled people. Will Driverless Cars be Part of a More Independent Future for Disabled People? Excitement and anticipation grows for a future which features driverless cars. But major concerns regarding the technology remain. Ultimately, technology can be a blessing and a curse. Think about a time where you’ve lost an important document or essay. Would the same have happened using traditional pen and paper? Well, the dog could have eaten it, but having a physical copy of something allows you to be in control. Similarly, a computer fault in a driverless car could potentially have devastating consequences. Humans beings are fallible, (this is why insurance companies exist!) but driverless computer systems need to be made almost infallible to stand any chance of reaching the roads on a global – or national – scale. Driverless cars can also pose ethical challenges; for example, if a crash is unavoidable, the car may have to ‘decide’ whether to kill a group of pedestrians or crash into a tree, potentially killing its own passengers. How can this quandary be answered? All of these questions become more relevant when considering disabled passengers, who may be unable to intervene to prevent an accident. Are We Close to a Driverless Future? Although billions of dollars have been spent on the development of driverless technology, and successful trials have taken place, we are still years away from seeing driverless cars filling our roads. There are simply too many obstacles – both technological and ethical – to overcome first. But in reality, are driverless cars the best solution for people who may already be lonely or socially withdrawn? Purpose-built vehicles offered by businesses such as Allied Fleet offer cost-effective and flexible solutions to disabled people, and to companies who offer transportation services for them. We don’t need to wait for a driverless future: a safe, viable and convenient solution already exists! How would you feel about being a passenger in a driverless car?  Future-of-Driverless-Cars-Professor-Xavier-Dailycarblog
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