Driverless cars are expected to be rolling into the streets within the next 20
years. In fact, they’ve legally been on the roads for the past years, approved for
testing purposes. It is predicted that driverless vehicles will be commercially
available at a high cost within 7 years, but it may take another 8 years for prices to
drop enough to spur mass consumption.
Today, the discussions focus primarily on the shifting of accident liability to
manufacturers and all the goodness that comes along with reducing accidents. A
truly driverless road would not be accident-free as there would still be a number of
accidents caused by mechanical or computer errors, weather conditions,
pedestrians and sheer random chance. But it would make the now-routine loss of
life on the roads far rarer.
The concept of a “driver” will be replaced with that of an “operator”, who
simply programs the vehicle’s GPS to arrive at the desired destination and pushes
the “Start” button to begin the trip. Since judgment will no longer be required of
the operator, they won’t need a driver’s license. Theoretically, a 10-year-old child
could independently take the car to school in the morning.
Computer-operated cars will eventually reshape the car design as things like
windshields will become less necessary. Drivers will be able to sit wherever they’d
like in their cars. There will be no need for gas and brake pedals as speed will be
automatically controlled by the computer. The steering wheel and the turn signal
arm can also be eliminated once the public gets used to reliability of these vehicles.
Each passenger will have a personal video display informing about a current
location, the distance to your destination, speed and personal entertainment
selections. The concept of ‘distracted driving’ will disappear as there will be no
reason to pay attention to where you are going.
Vehicle owners will no longer buy collision insurance since manufacturers
will be solely responsible for damage. Owners will only need theft insurance and
coverage for hail, falling objects or floods. To take this one step further, personal
vehicle ownership may dramatically diminish. Car dealers will have lots full of
vehicles for hire on a daily or hourly basis instead of vehicles for sale. When you
need a car, you’ll summon one using your mobile phone. The closest unmanned
vehicle will be dispatched to your home to take you where you need to go. When
done, you’ll simply push the button for the unmanned vehicle to drive itself back
to the rental lot.
The social and cultural impact of driverless cars could cause far more
upheaval than any of us could imagine. Perhaps, it would be even greater than the
impact the Internet had on commerce and communication. Obviously, the picture
being painted is the one that assumes total adoption, which is far from realistic.
You will always have transitional delays caused by the lack of free cars, the
longevity of today’s vehicles and cultural resistance.
This resembles the historical factors that affected the transition from horse to
the automobile. At the moment, the driverless car seems like a novelty. However,
it will open up new prospects. The prospect of flying cars may soon become a
reality. With computer-controlled vehicles that strictly follow traffic rules, threedimensional
roads become far less scary and more a matter of simply solving the
Where we’re going, we may not need roads at all.
1.According to the author driverless cars will become cheap enough for most people
to buy within the following …
1) 8 years.
2) 15 years.
3) 7 years.
4) 20 years.
2.Which of the following statements is TRUE, according to the text?
1) A driverless car operator won’t be responsible for accidents.
2) The age required to operate a driverless car is likely to rise.
3) Driverless cars may increase the number of road accidents.
4) The driverless cars will be voice-activated.
3.To operate a driverless car, their owners will be required to …
1) set the destination on the GPS.
2) have experience in programming.
3) obtain a collision insurance.
4) have a special license
4.Which of the following, according to the author, will a driverless car have?
1) Gas and brake pedals.
2) A steering wheel.
3) Video displays.
4) A turn signal arm.
5.The author claims that with the introduction of driverless cars …
1) personal vehicle ownership will increase.
2) the number of vehicles on the roads will diminish.
3) people will rent vehicles instead of buying them.
4) vehicle owners will spend more money on insurance.
6.According to the author, driverless cars will be …
1) as important socially as the Internet.
2) enthusiastically accepted by the people.
3) operated without transitional delays.
4) used by people with caution at first.
7.The attitude of the author towards the driverless cars may be described as …